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S. G. and E. L. ELBERT 

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.,_gA3!HABIinLJi. COHAH 











18 6 0. 

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, by 


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, in and for the 
Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 






In compiling the following pages, I have not 
been influenced by partisan purposes; neither 
have I compiled them for the notoriety of having 
my name appended to a book. The country is 
sufficiently flooded already with partisan litera- 
ture — books written for political advantage, or 
pecuniary gain, or both. To such authorship I 
do not aspire. If I have cherished an ambition 
in reference to this work, it has been an ambition 
to place before the people information upon the 
subject that is now agitating the country, upon 
which they can rely, — the views and opinions of 
those distinguished patriots and statesmen who 
formed the government, and whose intentions and 
principles should be heeded and carried out, if 
we would preserve it from disruption and decay. 
This information, or most of it, has hitherto been 



locked up in scores of huge Congressional vol- 
umes, entirely inaccessible to the general mass of 
readers ; or if, by chance or otherwise, accessible, 
requiring so much time and research as to ren- 
der it comparatively valueless. 

I believe the most that the people — the 
voters — of this country desire, in reference to the 
question of slavery, is, to know, from an authentic 
source, what the framers of the Constitution 
meant to do with it : what relation thev meant 
the government should hold to the institution, 
if any ; and that, knowing this, regardless of 
the selfishness and fanaticism of politicians, north 
or south, east or west, they will steadily pursue 
the path marked out by their fathers, and per- 
petuate the principles of Constitutional liberty 
with every energy and effort in their power. 

That there need be no mistake in this matter, 
I have commenced this compilation with the de- 
bates in the congress of the confederation, the 
first form of a national government adopted by 
the colonies after the declaration of independence. 
These " Notes " were kept by Thomas Jefferson. 
They are meagre, it is true, as are all the debates 
of those times, for stenography was then un- 


known ; but they furnish all, as well as the best, 
lights we can get, of the opinions of the states- 
men at that time. It will be seen that the 
" Notes " relate almost exclusively to the slavery 
question, and hence we may conclude that then, 
as now, that subject was one of difficulty as well 
as delicacy. I have given the " Notes " in full, 
pro and con — I could do no more ; and the 
reader must form his own opinions, — mine would 
be superfluous. 

Passing from the Articles of the Confederation, 
I have next taken up the Convention to form the 
present Constitution. The only debates preserved 
in that body were taken by Mr. Madison and 
Mr. Yates ; the latter, however, left the Conven- 
tion before its adjournment, and hence did not 
take them fully. I have carefully compiled, from 
both these sources, everything that was said and 
done relating to slavery, together with such other 
matter as seemed likely to be of interest at the 
present time. It will be seen -that here, too, 
difficulties were presented, that for a while 
seemed likely to preclude the possibility of a 
union of the States on their present basis; but 
they were happily arranged, in a spirit of mutual 


concession and compromise, upon the principle 
of granting such powers as seemed necessary for 

the good of the whole, specifically, and " reserv- 
ing to the people or the States, respectively,* all 

powers not granted. These debates, too, are 
meagre, but they are sufficient to give the intelli- 
gent reader a clear notion of the intentions of 
the Convention, and what powers are really 
granted to Congress by that instrument of gov- 
ernment which has shed so much happiness upon 
our beloved country. 

Pursuing the same purpose, I have next taken 
up the conventions of the several States to ratify 
the Constitution, and given everything relating 
to the subject of slavery that w T as said and done 
in them. 

In some of these States the debates are quite 
full ; in others but mere fragments have been pre- 
served ; and in a few, none at all. I have given 
everything I could find, and my facilities have 
not been very limited, upon this subject. The 
construction given to the Constitution by the wis* 
and good men who deliberated upon its ratifica- 
tion, many of whom had taken part in its forma- 
tion, has been carefully and fully noted. I have 


omitted nothing on this subject within the scope 
of an ample library, and long, patient, and thor- 
ough investigation. 

Leaving the Constitution at the period of its 
ratification by the requisite number of States, I 
have next taken up the Ordinance of 1787, im- 
portant in the history of the country as contain- 
ing the first restriction upon the spread of slavery 
ever adopted by these States, although it was 
adopted under the Articles of Confederation, be- 
fore the present Constitution was framed ; still, 
it is deemed of importance at the present day, as 
furnishing a precedent for the prohibition of 
slavery in the Territories by the general govern- 
ment. This chapter was compiled by Hon. Peter 
Force, of Washington, from original documents, 
who has spent a lifetime in compiling the 
archives of the government, under the authority 
of Congress. It is unquestionably the only au- 
thentic history of that famous ordinance ever 
given to the country ; and I desire here to ex- 
press to the great American compiler, my sincere 
thanks for his courtesy and kindness in this 

Passing from this, the first action of Congress 


upon the subject of slavery is taken up. Thii 

occurred in 1790, the firsJ Congress thai assem- 
bled under the present Constitution, and ma bad 
upon the memorial of the Pennsylvania Abolition 
Society. The report of the committor, and the 
final action of Congress upon tbat subject, will 
be found in this chapter. 

The Virginia and Kentucky resolutions, drawn 
by Messrs. Madison and Jefferson, defining tlio 
rights and powers of the general government 
and the States, axe next given. 

From this period till the application of Mis- 
souri for admission into the Union, in 1820, the 
question of slavery was not agitated in Congress 
to any considerable extent. This was the first 
discussion ever had in that body on the power of 
Congress to restrict slavery in the territories of 
the United States. A succinct and careful his- 
tory of the difficulty is given, together with ex- 
tracts from the speeches of the most prominent 
statesmen of that time who participated in it, 
embracing nearly the entire speech of General 
Pinckney, who was the only member of Congress, 
at that time, who was a member of the Conven- 
tion that framed the Constitution. In this con- 


nection, also, the reader will find the opinions of 
Mr. Madison, Mr, Jefferson, Mr. Monroe, Gen- 
eral Harrison, and others, upon the power of 
Congress to restrict slavery in the national ter- 

From this period, down to 1854, the various 
phases of slavery agitation is traced, and the 
views of Clay, Calhoun, Benton, Cass, Dickinson, 
Seward, Marcy, John Quincy Adams, Silas 
Wright, Daniel Webster, and other of the emi- 
nent statesmen of the times, of both political 
parties, are given. A history of the Kansas- 
Nebraska bill ; extracts from the opinion of the 
court in the Dred Scott case, and other opinions 
of the courts in reference to slavery ; the inau- 
gural addresses of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, 
and Madison ; and the farewell addresses of 
Washington and Jackson; may also be found. 

Since 1854, the Whig party, as a national or- 
ganization, has ceased to exist, and the Republi- 
can party, organized particularly with reference 
to the slavery question, has taken its place. I 
have compiled nothing save the resolutions of the 
Presidential* conventions, subsequent to that pe- 
riod, for the reason that congressional discussions 


since that time are so familiar to the people, that 
a synopsis, within the scope of this book, must be 
too meagre for general interest. I hare en- 
deavored to give a fair and faithful compilation 
of the views and opinions of the eminent states- 
men of the country, of botli parties, from the 
organization of the government to, while 
both of the great political parties were organized 
npon a basis that embraced the South as well as 
the North. The base of the structure is laid in 
the organization of the government itself, and 
the views of the men who framed it. Let the 
reader first examine well the base, and then, step 
by step, ascend to the summit, examining, as he 
ascends, the best lights he can obtain, and then, 
like a rational, thinking, independent man, form 
his own conclusions with reference to this ques- 
tion, and act accordingly. Keeping in view the 
peac^ and welfare of the country, he will hardly 
act amiss, for there can be no safer guides for the 
present, than the lights and precedents of the 

I can hardly expect that this volume will es- 
cape partisan censure and criticism. Extremists, 
both North and South, I have no doubt, will con- 


demn it. This I cannot help ; I only ask the 
reader to remember, that it is a compilation of 
the opinions of those who laid, broad and deep, 
the foundations of civil and religious liberty, 
and of those eminent statesmen who succeeded 
them, and who have shed a halo of fadeless glory 
around the character of the American nation. 
If I be the subject of reproach for the compila- 
tion, what would be meted out to those patriots 
and sages, were they now upon earth, and should 
they again proclaim the doctrines of their day 
and generation'? It is not I who speak, but 
rather the voice of the immortal dead, a voice 
from the tombs of those great spirits, who, 
through the perils of war and revolution, estab- 
lished a government, the freest and the happiest 
on earth, and bequeathed it to us. Let us heed 
their admonitions, emulate their virtues, and 

profit by their examples. 

E. B. C. 

Wilkesbarre, Penn., June 18, 1860. 




Occurrences incident to the Act of Confederation — Jefferson's 
notes of the debates on the Confederation — Mr. Chase's mo- 
tion in reference to white inhabitants — " "White inhabitants" 
— Slaves — Negroes not considered members of the State — 
Mr. Adams on the same subject — Free and slave labor con- 
trasted — Mr. Harrison's compromise, that two slaves should 
be counted as one freeman, and remarks thereon — Mr. Wilson 
against slavery — Mr. Payne's remarks — Dr Witherspoon 
against tax on slaves — Mr. Chase on the subject of each 
colony having one vote in Congress — Dr. Franklin, Dr. With- 
erspoon, Mr. Adams, Dr. Rush, Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Wilson, on 
the same subject — Ratification, and the Articles of Confede- 
ration Page 21-43. 


The causes which led to the formation of the Constitution and 
wherein the Articles of Confederation were deficient for the 
purpose of a government, by Mr. Madison — Appointment of 
delegates to form a Constitution — Organization of the con- 
vention — Resolutions of Mr. Randolph, which became the 
basis of the Constitution — Mr. Madison, on the equality of 
suffrage — Speech of Alexander Hamilton, advocating mo- 
narchical government ; also plan of government submitted by 
him— Discussion continued — Angry discussion between Mr. 
Madison, Mr. Martin, and others — Dr. Franklin proposes 
prayer at the opening of the session — His remarks thereon — 
Mr. Randolph proposes a sermon on the 4th of July — Pro- 



position to adjourn sine die — Discussion continued — Report 
of committee on the construction of Congress — Three- fifths 
slaves included in representation — Concession of the small 
States that the House should originate all money bills, in 
consideration that they should have an equal representation 
in the Senate — Debate thereon — Mr. ICadison'e compromise — 
Further debate on slave representation, and vote — Debate 
on equality of votes in the Senate — Report of the Committee 
of the whole House on Mr. Randolph's resolutions — The 
resolutions as reported — Mr. Rutledge's report from the com- 
mittee of detail — Discussion thereon by Mr. Madison, Dr. 
Franklin, and others — Mr. Madison's proposition to give 
Congress power to institute temporary governments for the 
territories — Lengthy debate on slavery and the slave trade — 
Mr. Madison's proposition to give Congress power to in- 
stitute territorial governments struck out — Mr. Livingston's 
report on the importation of slaves — Discussion and vote 
thereon — Fugitive slaves — " Needful rules and regulations 
respecting the territory," etc. — Report of the Constitution by 
the committee of revision — The Constitution as reported and 
adopted — Official letter to Congress— Articles of amendment 
— When adopted Page 44-114. 


Debates in the convention of Massachusetts — Rev. Mr. Backus, 
on the religious test, and the importation of slaves — Mr. 
Dawes' remarks on slaves, and importation of — Gen. Heath, 
ditto ; his remarks on the adoption of the Federal Constitu- 
tion — Mr. King's remarks on representation and taxation — 
Debate in the convention of the State of New York — Mr. 
Hamilton's remarks on navigation, commerce, and slave rep- 
resentation — Debate in the convention of the State of Con- 
necticut — Mr. Ellsworth's remarks on the necessity of a Union, 
and the consequences of disunion — Debate in the convent: on 
of Virginia — Objections to the Constitution answered by Mr. 
Nicholas — Powers of the government — Mr. Mason in op- 
position to the slave trade — Mr. Madison on the same ; and 
in reference to fugitive slaves — He prefers union with slavery 
to disunion without it — Mr. Tyler against the slave trade — 


Patrick Henry on the powers of Congress — Fugitive slaves — 
Mr. Nicholas on slavery — Mr. Henry replies — Three-fifths of 
the negroes represented — Mr. Mason on negro taxes — Mr. 
Madison's reply — Mr. Henry against emancipation — Gov. 
Randolph on the same subject — Debate in the convention 
of North Carolina — Mr. Goudy against negro taxation — 
Negroes property — Mr. Davie — Mr. Spaight explains the 
views of the Federal Convention — Mr. Iredell on slavery and 
the slave trade — Mr. Galloway, Mr. Iredell and others, con- 
tinue the discussion — Debate in the convention of South 
Carolina — Mr. Lowndes on slavery and the slave trade — 
Judge Pendleton, Mr. Rutledge, and Mr. Pinckney, on the 
same subject Page 115-154. 


History of the Ordinance of 1787, by Peter Force, Esq., com- 
piler of the American Archives, by authority of Con- 
gress Page 155-178 


Memorial of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society to Congress on 
the slave trade, and proceedings thereon, 1790.. Page 179-183 


Yirginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, drawn by Messrs. 
Madison and Jefferson Page 184-194. 


The Missouri question in Congress, 1820 — Slavery restriction 
offered by Mr. Storrs, of New York — Mr. Meiggs opposed — 
Mr. Holmes' speech on — Mr. Smyth, Mr. Reid, Mr. Scott, 
Mr. Tucker, and Mr. Stevens on — Col. Richard M. Johnson 
in the Senate on — Mr. Pinckney, a member of the Federal 
Convention that framed the Constitution, ou the power of 
Congress to restrict slavery — Mr. Whiteman, Mr. Shaw, Mr. 
Holmes, and Mr. Barber, on the same subject — Ex- 
tracts Page 195-282. 



Extracts from a letter from Mr. Madison to President Monroe, 
on the Missouri restriction — Same in reply to Mr. Monroe — 
Mr. Madison on the Ordinance of 1787— Draft of a veto by 
Mr. Monroe on the bill establishing the Missouri Compro- 
mise line — Extracts from several letters of M r. Jefferson on 
the Missouri restriction — Extract from a letter of Con. 
Harrison (afterward President) to Mr. Monroe on the same 
subject Page 283-292. 


Fugitive slaves — Ordinance of 1787 — The Constitution. — Act 
of 1793 — Letters of Messrs. Marcy and Seward in favor of 
allowing owners to bold skives nine months in the State of 
New York Page 293-306. 


Slavery in the District of Columbia in. 1831, 1835, and 1836— 
Remarks of John Quincy Adams, Silas Wright, and James 
Buchanan on — Mr. Benton's views Page 307-320. 


Agitation of slavery in the House of Representatives, in 1839, 
and retiring of Southern members from the hall — " The Gag- 
Rule," and vote thereon — Extract from Mr. Clay's speech in 
the Senate Page 321-348. 


Resolution of Mr. Calhoun in 1847, and remarks on, Extract — 
Extract from Mr. Calhoun's speech in 1848 — Resolution of 
Daniel S. Dickinson, and remarks thereon, Extract, 1848 — 
Extracts from the speeches of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, 
John C. Calhoun, Gen. Cass, and Gen. Houston, of the 
Senate, on the Compromise Resolutions of Mr. Clay, in 1850 
— Also Extracts from the speeches of Mr. Tombs, of Georgia, 
Mr. Butler and Mr. Ross, of Pennsylvania, of the House of 
Representatives, on the same subject — Also Extract from 
" Southern Address." Page 349-387. 



The Dred Scott decision— Extracts from the opinions of the 
Court—Extract from the opinion of the Pennsylvania Su- 
preme Court in 1837, that a negro cannot be a citizen— Prigg 
vs. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, by Judge Story, 
Extract * Page 388-408.' 


Inaugural Addresses of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and 
Madison, and the Farewell Addresses of Washington and 
JacksoD Pa^°409-480. 


Repeal of the Missouri Compromise and organization of the 
Territories of Kansas and Nebraska in 1854.. .Page 481-487. 


National Conventions-Platforms of the various parties on the 
subject of slavery, from 1848 to 1860 Page 488-495. 



Previous to the adoption of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, steps for the formation of a confederated govern- 
ment, by and between the colonies, were taken. A common 
danger seems to have impressed them with the necessity of 
a union for the common defense. On the 11th of June, 
11? 6, some three weeks prior to the adoption of the Decla- 
ration, a committee of one from each colony was raised for 
the purpose of preparing a plan of government. The com- 
mittee soon after made a report, but it was not finally 
adopted by Congress till the 15th of November, 11 11. 

It was at the same time resolved by Congress that the 
Articles of Confederation, as they were called, should be 
presented to the legislature of each colony; and, if ratified, 
then their Delegates in Congress should, in that body, ap- 
prove the same. The colonies seem to have been singularly 
tardy in ratifying the articles. They were not ratified by 
Maryland till the 30th of January, 1781 ; New Jersey and 
Delaware also withheld their consent till some time during 
the year Hid ; and it was not till after a circular-letter by 
Congress had been sent to the legislatures of the several 
colonies, appealing in the most patriotic terms to their 
love of country and to their sense of common danger, that 
the Articles of Confederation were adopted by the whole 
of the thirteen colonies. From that time they took the 
name of States, a name more sovereign and independent in 
signification. They were no longer colonies — dependencies 
of Great Britain. 




On Friday, July 12, 1777, the committee appointed to 
draw the Articles of Confederation reported them, and on 
the 22d, the house resolved themselves into a committee to 
take them into consideration. On the 30th and 31st of that 
month, and 1st of the ensuing, those articles were debated 
which determined the proportion or quota of money which 
each State should furnish to the common treasury, and the 
manner of voting in Congress. The first of these articles 
was expressed, in the original draft, in these words : 

"Art. XL All charges of war, and all other expenses 
that shall be incurred for the common defense or general 
welfare, and allowed by the United States assembled, shall 
be defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be sup- 
plied by the several colonies in proportion to the number 
of inhabitants of every age, sex, and quality, except Indians 
not pa)ing taxes, in each colony — a true account of which, 
distinguishing the white inhabitants, shall be triennially 
taken, and transmitted to the Assembly of the United States." 

Mr. Chase moved that the quotas should be fixed, not 
by the number of inhabitants of every condition, but by that 
of the " white inhabitants." He admitted that taxation 
should be always in proportion to property ; that this was, 
in theory, the true rule ; but that, from a variety of difficul- 
ties, it was a rule which could never be adopted in practice. 
The value of the property in every State could never be 
estimated justly and equally. Some other measures for the 
wealth of the State must therefore be devised, some standard 
referred to, which would be more simple. He considered « 
the number of inhabitants as a tolerably good criterion of 
property, and that this might always be obtained. He 
therefore thought it the best mode which w r e could adopt, 
with one exception only ; he observed that negroes are 
property, and as such, cannot be distinguished from the lands 


or personalties held in those States where there are few 
slaves ; that the surplus of profit which a Northern farmer 
is able to lay by, he invests in cattle, horses, &c, whereas 
a Southern farmer lays out the same surplus in slaves. There 
is no more reason, therefore, for taxing the Southern States 
on the farmer's head, and on his slave's head, than the North- 
ern ones on their farmer's heads and the heads of their cattle ; 
that the method proposed would therefore tax the Southern 
States according to their numbers and their wealth con- 
junctly, while the Northern would be taxed on numbers 
only ; that negroes, in fact, should not be considered as 
members of the State more than cattle, and that they have 
no more interest in it. 

Mr. John Adams observed, that the numbers of people 
are taken, by this Article, as an index of the wealth of the 
State, and not as subjects of taxation ; that, as to this mat- 
ter, it was of no consequence by what name you called your 
people, whether by that of freemen or slaves ; that in some 
countries, the laboring poor are called freemen, in others 
they are called slaves, but that the difference as to the State 
was imaginary only. What matters it whether a landlord, 
employing ten laborers on his farm, give them annually as 
much money as will buy them the necessaries of life, or give 
them those necessaries at short hand ? The ten laborers 
add as much wealth to the State, increase its exports as 
much, in the one case as the other. Certainly five hundred 
freemen produce no more profits, no greater surplus for the 
payment of taxes, than five hundred slaves. Therefore, the 
State in which are the laborers called freemen should be 
taxed no more than that in which are those called slaves. 
Suppose, by an extraordinary operation of nature or of law, 
one-half the laborers of a State could, in the course of one 
night, be transformed into slaves, would the State be made 
the poorer, or the less able to pay taxes? That the con- 
dition of the laboring poor in most countries — that of the 


fishermen, particularly of the Northern States — is as abject 
as that of slaves. It is the Dumber of laborers which pro- 
duce the surplus for taxation ; and cumbers, therefore, in- 
discriminately, are the fair index to wealth ; that it is the 
use of the word " property" here, and its application to 
some of the people of the State, which produce the fallacy, 
How does the Southern fanner procure slaves ? Either by 
importation, or by purchase from his neighbor. If he im- 
ports a slave, he adds one to the Dumber of laborers in his 
country, and, proportionally, to its profits and ability to 
pay taxes. If he buys from his neighbor, it is only a trans- 
fer of a laborer from one farm to another, which does not 
change the annual produce of the State, and therefore should 
not change its tax ; that if a Northern farmer works ten 
laborers on his farm, he can, it is true, invest the surplus of 
ten men's labor in cattle ; but BO may the Southern farmer, 
working ten slaves ; that a State of one hundred thousand 
freemen can maintain no more cattle than one of one hundred 
thousand slaves. Therefore, they have no more of that kind 
of property. That a slave may, indeed, from the custom of 
speech, be more properly called the wealth of his master, 
than the free laborer might be called the wealth of his em- 
ployers ; but as to the State, both were equally its wealth, 
and should therefore equally add to the quota of its tax. 

Mr. Harrison proposed, as a compromise, that two 
slaves should be counted as one freeman. He affirmed that 
slaves did not do as much work as freemen, and doubted if 
two effected more than one ; that this was proved by the 
price of labor — the hire of a laborer in the Southern colo- 
nies being from £8 to £12, while in the Northern it was 
generally £24. 

Mr. Wilson said that, if this amendment should take 
place, the Southern colonies would have all the benefit of 
slaves, whilst the Northern ones would bear the burden ; 
that slaves increase the profits of a State, which the 


Southern States mean to take to themselves ; that they also 
increase the burden of defense, which would of course fall 
so much the heavier on the Northern ; that slaves occupy 
the places of freemen, and eat their food. Dismiss your 
slaves, and freemen will take their places. It is our duty 
to lay every discouragement on the importation of slaves ; 
but this amendment would give the just Hum Uberorum to 
him who would import slaves ; that other kinds of property 
were pretty equally distributed through all the colonies ; — ■ 
there were as many cattle, horses, and sheep, in the North 
as the South, and South as North ; but not so as to slaves ; 
— that experience has shown that those colonies have been 
always able to pay most which have the most inhabitants, 
whether they be black or white ; and the practice of the 
Southern colonies has always been to make every farmer pay 
poll taxes upon all his laborers, whether they be black or 
white. He acknowledges, indeed, that freemen work the 
most, but they consume the most also. They do not pro- 
duce a greater surplus for taxation. The slave is neither 
fed nor clothed so expensively as a freeman. Again, white 
women are exempted from labor generally, but negro womeu 
are not. In this, then, the Southern States have an advan- 
tage, as the Article now stands. It has sometimes been 
said that slavery is necessary, because the commodities they 
raise would be too dear for market, if cultivated by free- 
men ; but now it is said that the labor of the slave is the 

Mr. Payne urged the original resolution of Congress, 
to proportion the quotas of the States to the number of 

Dr. Witherspoon was of opinion that the value of lands 
and houses was the best estimate of the wealth of a nation, 
and that it was practicable to obtain such a valuation. This 
is the true barometer of wealth. The one now proposed is 
imperfect in itself, and unequal between the States. It has 


been objected that negroes eat the food of freemen, and 
therefore should be taxed ; horses also eat the food of free- 
men, therefore they also should be taxed. It has been said, 
too, that in carrying slaves into the estimate of the taxes 
the State is to pay, we do no more than those States them- 
selves do, who always take slaves into the estimate of the 
taxes the individual is to pay. But the cases are not 
parallel. In the Southern colonies slaves pervade the whole 
colony, but they do not pervade the whole continent. That 
as to the original resolution of Congress, to proportion the 
quotas according to the souls, it was temporary only, and 
related to the moneys heretofore remitted ; whereas we are 
now entering into a new compact, and therefore stand on 
original ground. 

August 1. The question being put, the amendment 
proposed was rejected by the votes of New Hampshire, 
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New 
Jersey, and Pennsylvania, against those of Delaware, Mary- 
land, Virginia, North and South Carolina. Georgia was 

The other article was in these words : — " Art. XVII. In 
determining questions, each colony shall have one vote." 

July 30, 31, August 1. Present forty-one members. Mr. 
Chase observed, that this Article was the most likely to 
divide us of any one proposed in the draft then under con- 
sideration. That the larger colonies had threatened they 
would not confederate at all, if their weight in Congress 
should not be equal to the numbers of people they added to 
the confederacy, while the smaller ones declared against a 
union, if they did not retain an equal vote for the protection 
of their rights. That it was of the utmost consequence to 
bring the parties together, as, should we sever from each 
other, either no foreign power will ally with us at all, or the 
different States will form different alliances, and thus in- 
crease the horrors of those scenes of civil war and bloodshed 


which, in such a state of separation and independence, would 
render us a miserable people. That our importance, our 
interests, our peace, required that we should confederate, 
and that mutual sacrifices should be made to effect a com- 
promise of this difficult question. He was of opinion 
the smaller colonies would lose their rights, if they were 
not in some instances allowed an equal vote ; and therefore 
that a discrimination should take place among the ques- 
tions which would come before Congress. That the smaller 
States should be secured in all questions concerning life or 
liberty, and the greater ones in all respecting property. He 
therefore proposed that, in votes relating to money, the 
voice of each colony should be proportioned to the number 
of its inhabitants. 

Dr. Franklin thought that the votes should be so pro- 
portioned in all cases. He took notice that the Delaware 
counties had bound up their delegates to disagree to this 
article. He thought it very extraordinary language to be 
held by any State, that they would not confederate with us 
unless we would let them dispose of our money. Certainly, 
if we vote equally we ought to pay equally ; but the smaller 
States will hardly purchase the privilege at this price. 
That, had he lived in a State where the representation, 
originally equal, had become unequal by time and accident, 
he might have submitted rather than disturb government; 
but that we should be very wrong to set out in this practice, 
when it is in our power to establish what is right. That, 
at the time of the union between England and Scotland, 
the latter had made the objection which the smaller States 
now do ; but experience had proved that no unfairness had 
ever been shown them ; that their advocates had prognos- 
ticated that it would again happen, as in times of old, that 
the whale would swallow Jonah, but he thought the predic- 
tion reversed in event, and that Jonah had swallowed the 
whale; for the Scotch had, in fact, got possession of the 


government, and gave laws to the English. He reprobated 
the original agreement of Congress to vote by colonies, 
and therefore was for their voting, in all eases, according 
to the number of taxables. 

Dr. Witherspoon opposed every alteration of the article. 
All men admit that a confederacy is necessary. Should the 
idea get abroad that there is likely to be no union among us, 
it will damp the minds of the people, diminish the glory of 
our struggle, and lessen its importance; because it will open 
to our view future prospectfl of war and dissension among 
ourselves. If an equal vote be refused, the smaller States 
will become vassals to the larger; and all experience has 
shown that the vassals and subjects of Free States are the 
most enslaved. He instanced the helots of Sparta and the 
provinces of Koine. He observed that foreign powers, dis- 
covering this blemish, would make it a handle for disengag- 
ing the smaller States from so unequal a confederacy. That 
the colonies should, in fact, be considered as individuals ; 
and that, as such, in all disputes they should have an equal 
vote ; that they are now collected as individuals making a 
bargain with each other, aud, of course, had a right to vote 
as individuals. That in the East India Company they voted 
by persons, and not by their proportion of stock. That 
the Belgic confederacy voted by provinces. That in ques- 
tions of war the smaller States were as much interested as 
the larger, and therefore should vote equally ; and indeed, 
that the larger States were more likely to bring war on the 
confederacy, in proportion as their frontier was more exten- 
sive. He admitted that equality of representation was an 
excellent priuciple, but then it must be of things which are 
co-ordinate ; that is, of things similar, and of the same na- 
ture ; that nothing relating to individuals could ever come 
before Congress ; nothing but what would respect Colonies. 
He distinguished between an incorporating and a federal 
union. The union of England was an incorporating one ; 


yet Scotland had suffered by that union ; for that its inhab- 
itants were drawn from it by the hopes of places and em- 
ployments ; nor was it an instance of equality of represen- 
tation ; because while Scotland was allowed nearly a thir- 
teenth of representation, they were to pay only one-fortieth 
of the land-tax. He expressed his hopes that, in the present 
enlightened state of men's minds, we might expect a lasting 
confederacy, if it was founded on fair principles. 

John Adams advocated the voting in proportion to 
numbers. He said, that we stand here as the representa- 
tives of the people ; that in some States the people are 
many, in others they are few ; that therefore their vote here 
should be proportioned to the numbers from whom it comes. 
Reason, justice, and equity, never had weight enough, on 
the face of the earth, to govern the councils of men. It is 
interest alone which does it, and it is interest alone which 
can be trusted ; that therefore the interests within doors 
should be the mathematical representatives of the interests 
without doors ; that the individuality of the colonies is a 
mere sound. Does the individuality of a colony increase 
its wealth or numbers ? If it does, pay equally. If it does 
not add weight in the scale of the confederacy, it cannot 
add to their rights, nor weigh in argument. A has £50, B 
£500, C £1000, in partnership. Is it just they should 
equally dispose of the moneys of the partnership ? It has 
been said we are independent individuals, making a bargain 
together. The question is not what we are now, but what 
we ought to be when our bargain shall be made. The con- 
federacy is to make us one individual only ; it is to form us, 
like separate parcels of metal, into one common mass. We 
shall no longer retain our separate individuality, but become 
a single individual, as to all questions submitted to the con- 
federacy. Therefore all those reasons which prove the jus- 
tice and expediency of equal representation in other assem- 
blies hold good here. It has been objected that a propor- 


tional vote will endanger the smaller States. We answer, 
that an equal vote will endanger the larger. Virginia, 
Pennsylvania, ami Massachusetts, are the three greaser colo- 
nies. Consider their distance, their difference of produce, 
of interests, and of manners, and it is apparent they can 
never have an Interest or inclination to combine for the op- 
pression of the smaller; that the smaller will naturally di- 
vide on all qaestiona with the larger. Rhode bland, from 
its relation, similarity, and intercourse, will generally pur- 
sue the same objects with Massachusetts ; Jersey, Delaware, 
and Maryland, with Pennsylvania. 

Dr. Rush took notice, that the decay of the liberties of 
the Dutch republic proceeded from three causes — 1. The per- 
fect unanimity requisite on all occasion! ; 2. Their obligation 
to consult their constituents ; 8, Their voting by provinces. 
This last destroyed the equality of representation ; and the lib- 
erties of Great Britain, also, are sinking from the same defect. 
That a part of our rights is deposited, in the hands of our leg- 
islatures. There, it was admitted, there should be an equality 
of representation. Another part of our rights is deposited 
in the hands of Congress. Why is it not equally necessary 
there should be an equal representation there ? Were it 
possible to collect the whole body of the people together, 
they would determine the question submitted to them by 
their authority. Why should not the same majority decide, 
when voting here by their representatives ? The larger 
colonies are so providentially divided in situation, as to 
render every fear of their combining visionary. Their in- 
terests are different, and their circumstances dissimilar. It 
is more probable they will become rivals, and leave it in 
the power of the smaller States to give preponderance to 
any scale they please. The voting by the number of free 
inhabitants will have one excellent effect — that of inducing 
the colonies to discourage slavery and to encourage the in- 
crease of their free inhabitants. 


Mr. Hopkins observed, there were four larger, four 
smaller, and four middle-sized colonies. That the four 
largest would contain more than half the inhabitants of 
the confederating States, and therefore would govern the 
others as they should please. That history affords no in- 
stance of such a thing as equal representation. The Ger- 
manic body votes by States ; the Helvetic body does the 
same ; and so does the Belgic confederacy. That too little 
is known of the ancient confederations to say what was 
their practice. 

Mr. Wilson thought that taxation should be in propor- 
tion to wealth, but that representation should accord with 
the number of freemen. 

That government is a collection or result of the wills of 
all ; that if any government could speak the will of all, it 
would be perfect ; and that, so far as it departs from this, 
it becomes imperfect. It has been said that Congress is a 
representation of States, not of individuals. 

I say, that the objects of its care are all the individuals 
of the States. It is strange that annexing the name of 
" State" to ten thousand men, should give them au equal 
right with forty thousand. . This must be the effect of 
magic, not of reason. As to those matters which are 
referred to Congress, we are not so many States ; we are 
one large State. We lay aside our individuality whenever 
we come here. 

The Germanic body is a burlesque on government, and 
their practice on any point is a sufficient authority and 
proof that it is wrong. The greatest imperfection in the 
constitution of the Belgic confederacy is their voting by 
provinces. The interest of the whole is constantly sacri- 
ficed to that of the small States. 

The history of the war in the reign of Queen Anne 
sufficiently proves this. It is asked, Shall nine colonies put 
it into the power of four to govern them as they please ? 


I invert the question, and ask, Shall two millions of people 
put it into the power of one million to govern them as they 
please? It is pretended, too, that the smaller colonies will 
be in danger from the greater. Speak in honest language, 
and say, the minority will he in danger from the majority. 
Aud is there an assemblj on earth where ihis danger inav 
not be equally pretended'/ The truth is, that our proceed- 
ings will then be consentaneous with the interests of the 
majority, and so they ought to be. The probability is 
much greater that the larger States will disagree, than that 
they will combine. 

I defy the wit of man to invent a possible case, or to 
suggest any one thing on earth, which shall be for the 
interests of Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and 
which will not also be for the interests of the other States. 

These Articles, reported July 12, '70, were debated from 
day to day, and time to time, for two years; were ratified 
July 9, '78, by ten States; by New Jersey, on the 20th of 
November of the same year ; and by Delaware, on the 23d 
of February following. Maryland, alone, held off two years 
more, acceding to them, March 1, '81, and thus closing the 
obligation. Following are the Articles : — 


To all to whom these Presents shall come, We, the un- 
dersigned Delegates of the Slates affixed to our names, 
send greeting. — Whereas, the Delegates of the United 
States of America, in Congress assembled, did, on the 15th 
day of November, in the Year of our Lord 1777, and in 
the Second Year of the Independence of America, agree 
to certain Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union 
between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-bay, 
Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, 
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Mary- 


land, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and 
Georgia, in the words following, viz.: 

11 Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union between 
the Stales of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, 
Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, 
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ma- 
ryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and 

Article 1. The style of this Confederacy shall be " The 
United States of America." 

Article 2. Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom 
and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right, 
which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to 
the United States in Congress assembled. 

Article 3. The said States hereby severally enter into 
a firm league of friendship with each other, for their com- 
mon defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual 
and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other 
against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or 
any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or 
any other pretense whatever. 

Article 4. The better to secure and perpetuate mutual 
friendship and intercourse among the people of the different 
States in this Union, the free inhabitants of each of these 
States — paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice ex- 
cepted — shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of 
free citizens in the several States ; and the people of each 
State shall have free ingress and regress to and from any 
other State, and shall enjoy therein all the privileges of 
trade and commerce, subject to the same duties, impositions 
and restrictions, as the inhabitants thereof respectively, pro- 
vided that such restriction shall not extend so far as to 
prevent the removal of property, imported into any State, 
to any other State of which the owner is an inhabitant; 


provided, also, that no imposition, duties or restriction shall 
be laid by any State on the property of the United States, 
or either of them. 

If any person guilty of, or charged with treason, felony, 
or other high misdemeanor in any State, shall flee from 
jr.stice, and be found in any of the United States, he shall 
npon demand of the Governor, or executive power of the 
State from which he fled, be delivered up and removed to 
the State having jurisdiction of his offense. 

Full faith and credit shall be given in each of these 
States, to the records, acts and judicial proceedings of the 
courts and magistrates of every other State. 

Article 5. For the more convenient management of the 
general interest of the United States, Delegates shall be 
annually appointed, in such manner as the legislature of 
each State shall direct, to meet in Congress on the first 
Monday in November, in every year, with a power reserved 
to each State, to recall its Delegates, or any of them, at any 
time within the year, and to send others in their stead, for 
the remainder of the year. 

No State shall be represented in Congress by less than 
two, nor by more than seven members ; and no person shall 
be capable of being a Delegate for more than three years 
in any term of six years ; nor shall any person, being a 
Delegate, be capable of holding any office under the United 
States, for which he, or another for his benefit, receives any 
salary, fees or emolument of any kind. 

Each State shall maintain its own Delegates in any 
meeting of the States, and while they act as members of 
the Committee of the States. 

In determining questions in the United States, in Con- 
gress assembled, each State shall have one vote. 

Freedom of speech and debate in Congress shall not be 
impeached or questioned in any court or place, out of Con- 
gress, and the members of Congress shall be protected in 


their persons from arrests and imprisonments, during the 
time of their going to and from, and attendance on Con- 
gress, except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace. 

Article 6. No State without the consent of the United 
States in Congress assembled, shall send any embassy to, or 
receive any embassy from, or enter into any conference, 
agreement, alliance or treaty with any King, Prince or 
State ; nor shall any person holding any office of profit or 
trust under the United States, or any of them, accept of any 
present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from 
any King, Prince or Foreign State ; nor shall the United 
States in Congress assembled, or any of them, grant any 
title of nobility. 

No two or more States shall enter into any treaty, con- 
federation or alliance whatever between them, without the 
consent of the United States in Congress assembled, speci- 
fying accurately the purposes for which the same is to be 
entered into, and how long it shall continue. 

No State shall lay any imposts or duties which may 
interfere with any stipulations in treaties, entered into by 
the United States in Congress assembled, with any King, 
Prince or State, in pursuance of any treaties already pro- 
posed by Congress, to the Courts of France and Spain. 

No vessels of war shall be kept up in time of peace by any 
State, except such number only, as shall be deemed necessary 
by the United States in Congress assembled, for the defense 
of such State, or its trade ; nor shall any body of forces be 
kept up by any State, in time of peace, except such number 
only, as in the judgment of the United States, in Congress 
assembled, shall be deemed requisite to garrison the forts 
necessary for the defense of such State ; but every State shall 
always keep up a well regulated and disciplined militia, 
sufficiently armed and accoutred, and shall provide and havo 
constantly ready for use, in public stores, a due number of 


field pieces and tents, and a propel quantity of arms, ammu- 
nition and camp equipage. 

No State shall engage in any war without the consent of 
the United States in Congress assembled, unlets such State 

Ve actually invaded by enemi.-s, or shall have revived 
jertaiu advice of a resolution being formed bjf some nation 
)f Indians to invade such State, and the danger is so immi- 
nent as not to admit of a delay, till the United States in 
Congress assembled can be consulted : nor shall any State 

grant commissions to any ships or vessels of war, n<>r letters 
of marque or reprisal, except it be after a declaration of war 
by the Uidted States in Congress assembled, and then only 
against the kingdom or State, and the subjects thereof, 
against which war has been so declared, and under such 
regulations as shall he established by the United States in 
Congress assembled, unless BUCfi State be infested by pirates, 
in which case vessels of war may be fitted out for that occa- 
sion, and kept so long as the danger shall continue, or until 
the United States in Congress assembled shall determine 

Article T. When land-forces are raised by any State 
for the common defense, all officers of or under the rank of 
colonel, shall be appointed by the legislature of each State 
respectively by whom such forces shall be raised, or in such 
manner as such State shall direct, and all vacancies shall be 
filled up by the State which first made the appointment. 

Article 8. All charges of war, and all other expenses 
that shall be incurred for the common defense or general 
welfare, and allowed by the United States in Congress 
assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, 
which shall be supplied by the several States, in proportion 
to the value of all land within each State, granted to or sur- 
veyed for any person, as such land and the buildings and 
improvements thereon shall be estimated according to such 
mode as the United States in Congress assembled, shall from 


time to time, direct and appoint. The taxes for paying 
that proportion shall be laid and levied by the authority 
and direction of the Legislatures of the several States within 
the time agreed upon by the United States in Congress 

Article 9. The United States in Congress assembled 
shall have the sole and exclusive right and power of deter- 
mining on peace and war, except in the cases mentioned in 
the 6th article — of sending and receiving ambassadors- 
entering into treaties and alliances, provided that no treaty 
of commerce shall be made whereby the legislative power 
of the respective States shall be restrained from imposing 
such imposts and duties on foreigners, as their own people 
are subjected to, or from prohibiting the exportation or 
importation of any species of goods or commodities whatso- 
ever — of establishing rules for deciding in all cases what 
captures on land or water shall be legal, and in what manner 
prizes taken by land or naval forces in the service of#he 
United States shall be divided or appropriated — of granting 
letters of marque and reprisal in times of peace — appointing 
courts for the trial of piracies and felonies committed on the 
high seas and establishing courts for receiving and deter- 
mining finally appeals in all cases of captures, provided that 
no member of Congress shall be appointed a judge of any 
of the said courts. 

The United States in Congress assembled shall also be 
the last resort on appeal in all disputes and differences now 
subsisting or that hereafter may arise between two or more 
States concerning boundary, jurisdiction, or any other cause 
whatever ; which authority shall always be exercised in the 
manner following : — Whenever the legislative or executive 
authority or lawful agent of any State in controversy with 
another shall present a petition to Congress, stating the 
matter in question and praying for a hearing, notice thereof 
shall be given by order of Congress, to the legislative or 


executive authority of the other State in controversy, and a 
day assigned for the appearance of the parties by their lawful 

agents, who shall then be directed to appoint by joint con- 
sent, commissioners or judges to constitute a court for bear- 
ing and determining the matter in question : but if they 
cannot agree, Congress shall name three persons out of each 
of the United States, and from the list of such persons each 
party shall alternately strike out one, the petitioners begin- 
ning, until the number shall be reduced to thirteen ; and 
from that number not less than seven, nor more than nine 
names as Congress shall direct, shall in the presence of 
Congress be drawn out by lot, and the persons whose names 
shall be so drawn or any five of them, shall be commissioners 
or judges, to hear and finally determine the controversy, so 
always as a major part of the judges who shall hear the 
cause shall agree in the determination : and if either party 
shall neglect to attend at the day appointed, without showing 
reitfons which Congress shall judge sufficient, or being 
present shall refuse to strike, the Congress shall proceed to 
nominate three persons out of each State, and the Secretary 
of Congress shall strike in behalf of such party absent or 
refusing ; and the judgment and sentence of the court to be 
appointed, in the manner before prescribed, shall be final 
and conclusive ; and if any of the parties shall refuse to 
submit to the authority of such court, or to appear or defend 
their claim or cause, the court shall nevertheless proceed to 
pronounce sentence, or judgment, which shall in like manner 
be final and decisive, the judgment or sentence and other 
proceedings being in either case transmitted to Congress, 
and lodged among the acts of Congress for the security of 
the parties concerned : provided that every commissioner, 
before he sits in judgment, shall take an oath to be admin- 
istered by one of the judges of the Supreme or Superior 
Court of the State where the cause shall be tried, "well 
and truly to hear and determine the matter in question, 


according to the best of his judgment, without favor, affec- 
tion, or hope of reward :" provided also that no State shall 
be deprived of territory for the benefit of the United States. 

All controversies concerning the private right of soil 
claimed under different grants of two or more States, whose 
jurisdictions as they may respect such lands, and the States 
which passed such grants, are adjusted ; the said grants or 
either of them being at the same time claimed to have 
originated antecedent to such settlement of jurisdiction, 
shall, on the petition of either party to the Congress of the 
United States, be finally determined as near as may be in 
the same manner as is before prescribed for deciding dis- 
putes respecting territorial jurisdiction between different 

The United States in Congress assembled shall also have 
the sole and exclusive right and power of regulating the 
alloy and value of coin struck by their own authority, or 
by that of the respective States — fixing the standard of 
weights and measures throughout the United States — regu- 
lating the trade and managing all affairs with the Indians, 
not members of any of the States ; provided that the legis- 
lative right of any State within its own limits be not in- 
fringed or violated — establishing or regulating post-offices 
from one State to another, throughout all the United States, 
and exacting such postage on the papers passing through 
the same as may be requisite to defray the expenses of the 
said office — appointing all officers of the land forces, in the 
service of the United States, excepting regimental officers — 
appointing all the officers of the naval forces, and com- 
missioning all officers whatever in the service of the United 
States — making rules for the government and regulation of 
the said land and naval forces, and directing their operations. 

The United States in Congress assembled shall have 
authority to appoint a committee, to sit in the recess of 
Congress, to be denominated "A Committee of the States," 


and to consist of one delegate from each State; and to 
appoint such other committee! and civil officers as may he 
necessary fur managing the genera] affairs of the United 

States under their direction — to appoint one of their number 
to preside; provided that no person be allowed to serve in 
the office of president inure than one year in any term of 
three years — to ascertain the necessary sums of money to 
be raised fur the service of the United States, and to ap- 
propriate and apply the same for defraying the public 
expenses — to borrow money, or emit bills on the credit of 
the United States, transmitting every half year to the 
respective States an account of the sums of money so bor- 
rowed or emitted — to build and equip a navy — to agree 
upon the number of land forces, and to make requisitions 
from each State for its quota, in proportion to the number 
of white inhabitants in such State ; which requisition shall 
be binding, ami thereupon the legislature of each State 
shall appoint the regimental officers, raise the men and 
clothe, arm and equip them in a soldier-like manner, at the 
expense of the United States ; and the officers and men so 
clothed, armed and equipped, shall march to the place 
appoiuted, and within the time agreed on by the United 
States in Congress assembled : But if the United States 
in Congress assembled shall, on consideration of circum- 
stances, judge proper that any State should not raise men, 
or should raise a smaller number than its quota, and that 
any other State should raise a greater number of men than 
the quota thereof, such extra number shall be raised, 
officered, clothed, armed and equipped in the same manner 
as the quota of such State, unless the legislature of such 
State shall judge that such extra number cannot be safely 
spared out of the same, in which case they shall raise, officer, 
clothe, arm and equip as many of such extra number as 
they judge can be safely spared. And the officers and men 
so clothed, armed and equipped, shall march to the place 


appointed, and within the time agreed on by the United 
States in Congress assembled. 

The United States in Congress assembled shall never 
engage in a war, nor grant letters of marque and reprisal 
in time of peace, nor enter into any treaties or alliances, nor 
coin money, nor regulate the value thereof, nor ascertain 
the sums and expenses necessary for the defense and welfare 
of the United States, or any of them, nor emit bills, nor 
borrow money on the credit of the United States, nor 
appropriate money, nor agree upon the number of vessels 
of war to be built or purchased, or the number of land or 
sea forces to be raised, nor appoint a commander-in-chief 
of the army or navy, unless nine States assent to the same : 
nor shall a question on any other point, except for adjourn- 
ing from day to day, be determined, unless by the votes of 
a majority of the United States in Congress assembled. 

The Congress of the United States shall have power to 
adjourn to any time within the year, and to any place within 
the United States, so that no period of adjournment be for 
a longer duration than the space of six months, and shall 
publish the journal of their proceedings monthly, except 
such parts thereof relating to treaties, alliances, or military 
operations, as in their judgment require secrecy; and the 
yeas and nays of the delegates of each State on any question 
shall be entered on the journal, when it is desired by any 
delegate ; and the delegates of a State, or any of them, at 
his or their request, shall be furnished with a transcript of 
the said journal, except such parts as are above excepted, 
to lay before the legislatures of the several States. 

Article 10. The committee of the States, or any nine 
of them, shall be authorized to execute, in the recess of 
Congress, such of the powers of Congress as the United 
States in Congress assembled, by the consent of nine States, 
shall, from time to time think expedient to vest them with ; 
provided that no power be delegated to the said committee, 


for the exercise of which, by the Articles of Confederation, 
the voice of nine States in the Congress of the United States 
assembled is requisite. 

Article 11. Canada, acceding to this confederation 
and joining in the measures of the United States, shall be 
admitted into, and entitled to all the advantages of this 
union ; but no other colony shall be admitted into the 
same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine States. 

Article 12. All bills of credit emitted, moneys bor- 
rowed and debts contracted by, or under the authority of 
Congress, before the assembling of the United States, in 
pursuance of the present confederation, shall be deemed 
and considered as a charge against the United States, for 
payment and satisfaction whereof the said United States 
and the public faith are hereby solemnly pledged. 

Article 13. Every State shall abide by the deter- 
minations of the United States in Congress assembled, on 
all questions which by this confederation is submitted to 
them. And the articles of this confederation shall be in- 
violably observed by every State, and the union shall be 
perpetual ; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be 
made in any of them ; unless such alteration be agreed to in 
a Congress of the United States, and be afterward con- 
firmed by the legislatures of every State. 

And Wliereas it hath pleased the Great Governor of the 
World to incline the hearts of the legislatures we respec- 
tively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize 
us to ratify the said Articles of Confederation and perpetual 
union. Know Ye that we, the undersigned delegates, by 
virtue of the power and authority to us given for that pur- 
pose, do by these presents, in the name and in behalf of 
our respective constituents, fully and entirely ratify and 
confirm each and every of the said Articles of Confederation 
and perpetual union, and all and singular the matters and 
things therein contained : And we do further solemnly 


plight and engage the faith of our respective constituents, 
that they shall abide by the determinations of the United 
States in Congress assembled, on all questions, which by 
the said confederation are submitted to them. And that 
the articles thereof nhall be inviolably observed by the 
States we respectively represent, and that the union shall be 
perpetual. In witness whereof we have hereunto set our 
hands in Congress. Done at Philadelphia, in the State of 
Pennsylvania, the 9th day of July, in the Year of our Lord, 
1778, and in the 3d year of the Independence of America. 



The following, from the papers of Mr. Madison, is the 
concluding portion of an article by him, detailing the causes 
which led to the formation of the Constitution : 

A resort to a general convention to re-model the con- 
federacy, was not a new idea. It had entered at an early 
date into the conversations and speculations of the most 
reflecting and foreseeing observers of the inadequacy of the 
powers allowed to Congress. In a pamphlet published in 
May, 1181, at the seat of Congress, Peletiah Webster, an 
able though not conspicuous citizen, after discussing the 
fiscal system of the United States, and suggesting, among 
other remedial provisions, one including a national bank, 
remarks, that " the authority of Congress at present is very 
inadequate to the performance of their duties ; and this 
indicates the necessity of their calling a Continental Con- 
vention for the express purpose of ascertaining, defining, 
enlarging, and limiting the duties and powers of their Con- 
stitution. " 

On the 1st of April, 1*183, Col. Hamilton, in a debate in 
in Congress, observed, " That he wished, instead of them, 
(partial conventions), to see a general convention take 
place ; and that he should soon, in pursuance of his instruc- 
tions from his constituents, propose to Congress a plan for 
that purpose, the object of which would be to strengthen 
the Federal Constitution." He alluded, probably, to the 
resolutions introduced by General Schuyler, in the Senate, 
and passed unanimously by the Legislature of New York, 


in the summer of IT 82, declaring "that the confederation 
was defective, in not giving Congress power to provide a 
revenue for itself, or in not investing them with funds from 
established and productive sources ; and that it would be 
advisable for Congress to recommend to the States to call 
a general convention, to revise and amend the confedera- 
tion." It does not appear, however, that his expectation 
had been fulfilled. 

In a letter to James Madison from R. H. Lee, then 
president of Congress, dated the 26th of November, 1784, 
he says : M it is by many here suggested, as a very necessary 
step for Congress to take, the calling on the States to form 
a convention, for the sole purpose of revising the confedera- 
tion, so far as to enable Congress to execute, with more 
energy, effect, and vigor, the powers assigned to it, than it 
appears by experience that they can do under the present 
state of things." The answer of Mr. Madison remarks: 
u I hold it for a maxim, that the Union of the States is 
essential to their safety against foreign danger and internal 
contention ; and that the perpetuity and efficacy of the 
present system cannot be confided in. The question, there- 
fore, is in what mode and at what moment, the experiment 
for supplying the defects ought to be made." 

In the winter of 1784-5, Noah Webster, whose political 
and other valuable writings had made him known to the 
public, proposed, in one of his publications, "A new system 
of government, which should act, not on the States, but 
directly on individuals, and vest in Congress full power to 
carry its laws into effect." 

The proposed and expected Convention at Annapolis, 
the first of a general character that appears to have been 
realized, and the state of the public mind awakened by it, 
had attracted the particular attention of Congress, and fa- 
vored the idea there of a Convention with fuller powers for 
amending the confederacy. 


It docs not appear that in any of these cases the re- 
formed system was to be otherwise sanctioned than by the 
legislative authority of the States ; nor whether, nor how 
far, a change was to be made in the structure of the de- 
pository of federal powers. 

The Act of Virginia, providing for the Convention at 
Philadelphia, was succeeded by appointments from the 
other States, as their legislatures were assembled, the ap- 
pointments being selections from the most experienced and 
high-standing citizens. Rhode Island was the only excep- 
tion to a compliance with the recommendation from An- 
napolis, well known to have been swayed by an obdurate 
adherence to an advantage, which her position gave her, of 
taxing her neighbors through their consumption of im- 
ported supplies — an advantage which it was foreseen would 
be taken from her by a revisal of the Articles of Con- 

As the public mind had been ripened for a salutary re- 
form of the political system, in the interval between the 
proposal and the meeting of the Commissioners at Anna- 
polis, the interval between this last event and the meeting of 
Deputies at Philadelphia, had continued to develop more 
and more the necessity and the extent of a systematic pro- 
vision for the preservation and government of the Union. 
Among the ripening incidents, was the insurrection of 
Shays, in Massachusetts, against her government, which 
was with difficulty suppressed, notwithstanding the influ- 
ence on the insurgents of an apprehended interposition of 
the federal troops. 

At the date of the Convention, the aspect and retrospect 
of the political condition of the United States could not 
but fill the public mind with a gloom, which was relieved 
only by a hope that so select a body would devise an ade- 
quate remedy for the existing and prospective evils so im- 
pressively demanding it. 


It was seen that the public debt, rendered so sacred by 
the cause in which it had been incurred, remained without 
any provision for its payment. The reiterated and elabo- 
rate efforts of Congress, to procure from the States a more 
adequate power to raise the means of payment, had failed. 
The effect of the ordinary requisitions of Congress had only 
displayed the inefficiency of the authority making them ; 
none of the States having duly complied with them, some 
having failed altogether, or nearly so, while in one instance, 
that of New Jersey, a compliance was expressly refused ; 
nor was more yielded to the expostulations of members of 
Congress, deputed to her legislature, than a mere repeal 
of the law, without a compliance. The want of authority 
in Congress to regulate commerce had produced in foreign 
nations, particularly Great Britain, a monopolizing policy, 
injurious to the trade of the United States, and destructive 
to their navigation ; the imbecility, and anticipated disso- 
lution of the Confederacy, extinguishing all apprehensions 
of a countervailing policy on the part of the United States. 
The same want of a general power over commerce, led to 
an exercise of the power, separately, by the States, which 
not only proved abortive, but engendered rival, conflicting, 
and angry regulations. Beside the vain attempts to supply 
their respective treasuries by imposts, which turned their 
commerce into the neighboring ports, and to coerce a re- 
laxation of the British monopoly of the West India navi- 
gation, which was attempted by Virginia, the States having 
ports for foreign commerce, taxed and irritated the adjoin- 
ing States trading through them — as New York, Pennsyl- 
vania, Virginia, and South Carolina. Some of the States, 
as Connecticut, taxed imports from others, as from Massa- 
chusetts, which complained in a letter to the Executive of 
Virginia, and doubtless to those of other States. In sun- 
dry instances, as of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, 
and Maryland, the navigation laws treated the citizens of 


other States as aliens. In certain cases, the authority of 
the confederacy was disregarded — as in violation, not only 
of the treaty of peace, but of treaties with France and 
Holland ; which were complained of to Congress. In 
other cases, the Federal authority was violated by treaties 
and wars with Indians, as by Georgia ; by troops raised 
aud kept up without the consent of Congress, as by Massa- 
chusetts ; by compacts without the consent of Congress, as 
between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and between Vir- 
ginia and Maryland. From the legislative journals of 
Virginia, it appears, that a vote, refusing to apply for a 
sanction of Congress, was followed by a vote against the 
communication of the compact to Congress. In the inter- 
nal administration of the States, a violation of contracts 
had become familiar, in the form of depreciated paper, 
made a legal tender, of property substituted for money, of 
instalment laws, and of the occlusions of the courts of jus- 
tice, although evident that all such interferences affected 
the rights of other States, relatively creditors, as well as 
citizen creditors within the State. Among the defects 
which had been severely felt, was want of a uniformity in 
cases requiring it, as laws of naturalization and bank- 
ruptcy ; a coercive authority operating on individuals ; and 
a guarantee of the internal tranquillity of the States. 

As a natural consequence of this distracted and disheart- 
ening condition of the Union, the federal authority had 
ceased to be respected abroad, and dispositions were shown, 
particularly in Great Britain, to take advantage of imbecility, 
and to speculate on its approaching downfall. At home, 
it had lost all confidence and credit ; the unstable and unjust 
career of the States had also forfeited the respect and confi- 
dence essential to order and good government, involving a 
general decay of confidence and credit between man and 
man. It was found, moreover, that those least partial to 
popular government, or most distrustful of its efficacy, were 


yielding to anticipations, that, from an increase of the con- 
fusion, a government might result more congenial with their 
taste or their opinions ; whilst those most devoted to the 
principles and forms of republics were alarmed for the cause 
of liberty itself, at stake in the American experiment, and 
anxious for a system that would avoid the inefficacy of a 
mere loose confederacy, without passing into the opposite 
extreme of a consolidated government. It was known that 
there were individuals who had betrayed a bias toward 
monarchy, and there had always been some not unfavorable 
to a partition of the Union into several confederacies, either 
from a better chance of figuring on a sectional theatre, or 
that the sections would require stronger governments, or, 
by their hostile conflicts, lead to a monarchical consolida- 
tion. The idea of dismemberment had recently made its 
appearance in the newspapers. 

Such were the defects, the deformities, the diseases, and 
the ominous prospects, for which the Convention was to pro- 
vide a remedy, and which ought never to be overlooked in 
expounding and appreciating the constitutional charter, the 
remedy that was provided. 

As a sketch on paper, the earliest, perhaps, of a consti- 
tutional government for the Union, (organized into regular 
departments, with physical means operating on individuals,) 
to be sanctioned by the people of the States, acting in their 
original and sovereign character, was contained in the letters 
of James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, of the 19th of 
March ; to Governor Randolph, of the 8th of April ; and 
to General Washington, of the 16th of April, 1787. 

The feature in these letters which vested in the general 
authority a negative on the laws of the States, was suggested 
by the negative in the head of the British Empire, which 
prevented collisions between the parts and the whole, and 
between the parts themselves. It was supposed that the 
substitution of an elective and responsible authority for an 


hereditary and irresponsible one would avoid the appearance 
even of a departure from republicanism. Bat, although the 
subject was so viewed in the Convention, and the votes on 
it were more than once equally divided, it was finally and 
justly abandoned, as, apart from other objections, it was 
not practicable among so many State-, increasing in number, 
and enacting, each of them, so many laws. Instead of the 
proposed negative, the objects of it were left ai iinally pro- 
vided for in the Constitution. 

On the arrival of the Virginia deputies at Philadelphia, 
it occurred to them, that from the early and prominent part 
taken by that State in bringing about the Convention, some 
initiative step might be expected from them. The resolu- 
tions introduced by Governor Randolph were the result of 
a consultation on the subject, with an understanding that 
they left all the deputies entirely open to the lights of dis- 
cussion, and free to concur in any alterations or modifications 
which their reflections and judgments might approve, The 
resolutions, as the journals show, became the basis on which 
the proceedings of the Convention commenced, and to the 
developments, variations, and modifications of which, the 
plan of government proposed by the Convention may be 



New Hampshire. — By Act of June 21, 178*7, John 
Langdon, John Pickering, Nicholas Gilman, and Benjamin 
West, or any two of them, were V appointed and author- 
ized to act as deputies from this State to meet at Philadel- 
phia, delegates from the other States of this Confederacy, 
to devise ways to avert the dangers which threaten our ex- 
istence as a free people." 

Massachusetts. — Francis Dana, Elbridge Gerry, Na- 
thaniel Gorham, Rufus King, and Caleb Strong were chosen 


by the General Court, April 9, 118*7, and any three of them 
authorized to act. 

Connecticut. — William S. Johnson, Roger Sherman, 
and Oliver Ellsworth, appointed by Act of the General As- 
sembly of the second Thursday of May, 1787. 

New York. — Robert Yates, John Lansing, Jr., and 
Alexander Hamilton, appointed by Act of Assembly, March 

6, im. 

New Jersey. — David Brearly, Wm. C. Houston, Wil- 
liam Patterson, and John Neilson, appointed by the Coun- 
cil and Assembly, November 23, 1786. On the 18th May, 
1787, William Livingston and Abraham Clark, — and on 
the 5th June following, Jonathan Dayton, were added to 
those first appointed, and any three of them empowered to 

Pennsylvania. — December 30, 178G, Thomas Mifflin, 
Robert Morris, George Clymer, Jared Tngersoll, Thomas 
Fitzsimmons, James Wilson, and Gouverneur Morris were 
appointed by an Act of the General Assembly ; and by 
Act of 28th March, 1787, Benjamin Franklin was added to 
the list. 

Delaware. — George Read, Gunning Bedford, John 
Dickinson, Richard Basset, and Jacob Broom, or any three 
of them, were appointed by Act of Assembly of February 3, 

Maryland. — James McHenry, Daniel of St. Thomas 
Jenifer, Daniel Carroll, John Francis Mercer, and Luther 
Martin were appointed by the House of Delegates and 
Senate, May 26, 1787. 

Virginia. — On the 4th December, 1786, by the House of 
Delegates, with the concurrence of the Senate, George 
Washington, Patrick Henry, Edmund Randolph, John 
Blair, James Madison, George Mason, and George Wythe, 
were appointed. Mr. Henry declined, and James McClurg 


was appointed by Governor Randolph, in his place on t lie 
2d May, 1787. 

North Carolina. — By Act of the Senate and House of 
Commons, in January, 1787, Richard Caswell, Alexander 
Martin, William Richardson Dane, Richard Dobba Spaight, 
and Willie Jones were appointed. Mr. Caswell resigned, 
and ou the twenty-third of April "William Blount was ap- 
pointed in his stead ; Willie Jones declining the appoint- 
ment, Hugh Williamson was appointed by the Governor in 
his place. 

South Carolina. — By Act of March 8, 1787, Charles 
Pinckney, John Rutledgc, Charles C. Pinckney, and Pierce 
Butler were commissioned. 

Georgia. — By an ordinance of 10th February, 1787, Wil- 
liam Few, Abraham Baldwin, William Pierce, George Wal- 
ton, William Houston, and Nathaniel Pendleton appointed 
deputies from this State. 


On Monday the 14th of May, A. D. f 1787, and in the 
eleventh year of the Independence of the United States of 
America, at the State House in the city of Philadelphia, in 
virtue of appointments from their respective States, sundry 
deputies to the Federal Convention appeared ; but a ma- 
jority of States not being represented, the members pres- 
ent adjourned from day to day until Friday the 25th of the 
said month, when, in virtue of the said appointments, ap- 
peared from the State of - 

Massachusetts. — The Hon. Rufus King, Esq. 

New York. — The Hon. Robert Yates, and Alexander 
Hamilton, Esqs. 

New Jersey. — The Horn David Brearly, William Church- 
hill Houston, and William Patterson, Esqs. 


Pennsylvania. — The Hon. Robert Morris. Thomas Fitz- 
simmons, James Wilson, and Gouverneur Morris, Esqs. 

Delaware. — The Hon. George Read, Richard Bassett, 
and Jacob Broom, Esqs. 

Virginia. — His Excellency George Washington, Esq., 
His Excellency E. Randolph, Esq., The Hon. John Blair, 
James Madison, George Mason, George Wythe, and James 
McClurg, Esqs. 

North Carolina. — The Hon. Alexander Martin, Wil- 
liam Richardson Davie, Richard Dobbs Spaight, and 
Hugh Williamson, Esqs. 

South Carolina. — The lion. John Rutledge, Charles 
Cotesworth Pinckney, Pierce Butler, and Charles Pinckney, 

Georgia. — The Hon. William Few, Esq. 

Hon. Robert Morris of Pennsylvania moved that a Pre- 
sident be elected by ballot, and nominated George Wash- 
ington. A ballot was taken and he was declared unani- 
mously elected, and was conducted to the Chair by Mr. 
Morris and Mr. Rutledge. William Jackson was elected 
Secretary, Nicholas Weaver, Messenger, and Joseph Frye, 

Mr. Wythe, Mr. Hamilton, and Mr. C. Pinckney were 
appointed a Committee on Rules, aud the Convention ad- 
journed till Monday at 10 o'clock. 

Monday, May 28, 1*1 SI. — The Convention met; Natha- 
niel Gorham and Caleb Strong, deputies from Massachu- 
setts, Oliver Ellsworth from the State of Connecticut, Guc- 
ning Bedford from Delaware, James McHenry from Mary- 
land ; Benjamin Franklin, George Clymer, Thomas Mifflin, 
and Jared Ingersoll, of Pennsylvania, took their seats. 
Rules for the government of the Convention were reported 
and adopted. 

Mr. Randolph ther opened the business of the Conven* 
tion by offering the following resolutions : 


Resolutions offered by Edward Randolph to the Con- 
vention, May W 2'J, 1787. 

"1. Resolerd, That the Articles of the Confederation 
ought to be so corrected and enlarged as to accomplish 

the Objects proposed by their institution ; namely, com- 
mon defense, security of liberty, ami general welfare. 
" 2. Resolved, Therefore, that the fight of suffrage, m 

the national legislature ought to be proportioned to the 
quotas of contribution, or to the number of free inhabit- 
ants, as the one or the other may seem best, in different 

M 3. Resolved, That the national legislature ought to con- 
sist of two branches. 

"4. Resolved, That the members of the first branch of 
the national legislature ought to be elected by the people 
of the several States every for the term of 

to be of the age of years, at least ; 

to receive liberal stipends, by which they may be compen- 
sated for the devotion of their time to the public service; 
to be ineligible to any office established by a particular 
State ; or under the authority of the United States, (except 
those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the first 
branch,) during the term of service and for the space of 
after its expiration ; to be incapable of re- 
election for the space of after the expiration 
of their term of service ; and to be subject to recall. 

"5. Resolved, that the members of the second branch 
of the national legislature ought to be elected by those of 
the first, out of a proper number of persons nominated by 
the individual legislatures ; to be of the age of 
years, at least ; to hold their offices for a term sufficient to 
insure their independency ; to receive liberal stipends, by 
which they may be compensated for the devotion of their 
time to the public service ; and to be ineligible to any 
office established by a particular State, or under the autho- 


rity of the United States, (except those particularly be- 
longing to the functions of the second branch,) during the 
term of service ; and for the space of after the ex- 

piration thereof. 

" 6. Resolved, That each branch ought to possess the 
right of originating acts; that the national legislature ought 
to be empowered to enjoy the legislative right vested in 
Congress by the Confederation ; and moreover, to legis- 
late in all cases to which the separate States are incompe- 
tent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be 
interrupted by the exercise of individual legislation ; to 
negative all laws passed by the several States, contravening, 
in the opinion of the national legislature, the articles of 
union, or any treaty subsisting under the authority of the 
Union ; and to call forth the force of the Union against 
any member of the Union failing to fulfill its duty under 
the articles thereof. 

" 7. Resolved, That a national executive be instituted, 
to be chosen by the national legislature for the term of 
years, to receive punctually, at stated times, a fixed com- 
pensation for the services rendered, in which no increase or 
diminution shall be made, so as to affect the magistracy 
existing at the time of the increase or diminution ; to be 
ineligible a second time ; and that, beside a general autho- 
rity to execute the national laws, it ought to enjoy the 
executive rights vested in Congress by the Confederation. 

" 8. Resolved, That the executive and a convenient num- 
ber of the national judiciary ought to compose a council of 
revision, with authority to examine every act of the national 
legislature before it shall operate, and every act of a parti- 
cular legislature, before a negative thereon shall be final ; 
and that the dissent of the said council shall amount to a 
rejection, unless the act of the national legislature be again 
passed, or that of a particular legislature be again negatived 
by of the members of each branch. 


14 9. Resolved, That a national judiciary be established, 
to hold their offices during good behavior, and to re- 
ceive punctually, at stated times, a fixed compensation for 
their services, in which no increase or diminution shall be 
made, so as to affect the persons actually in office at the 
time of such increase or diminution. That the jurisdiction 
of the inferior tribunals, shall be to hear and determine in 
the first instance, and of the supreme tribunal to hear and 
determine in the dernier ressort, all piracies and felonies 
on the seas ; captures from an enemy ; cases in which 
foreigners, or citizens of other States, applying to such 
jurisdictions, may be interested or which respect the collec- 
tion of the national revenue ; impeachments of any national 
officer ; and questions which involve the national peace or 

u 10. Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the 
admission of States lawfully arising within the limits of the 
United States, whether from a voluntary junction of govern- 
ment or territory, or otherwise, with the consent of a num- 
ber of voices in the national legislature less than the whole. 

"11. Resolved, That a republican government, and the 
territory of each State, (except in the instance of a volun- 
tary junction of government, and territory,) ought to be 
guaranteed by the United States to each State. 

" 12. Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the 
continuance of Congress, and their authorities and privi- 
leges, until a given day, after the reform of the articles of 
union shall be adopted, and for the completion of all their 

" 13. Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the 
amendment of the articles of union, whensoever it shall 
seem necessary ; and that the assent of the national legis- 
lature ought not to be required thereto. 

11 14. Resolved, That the legislative, executive, and judi- 


ciary powers within the several States ought to be bound 
by oath to support the articles of union. 

" 15. Resolved, That the amendments which shall be 
offered to the Confederation by the Convention, ought, at a 
proper time or times, after the approbation of Congress, to 
be submitted to an assembly or assemblies of representa- 
tives, recommended by the several legislatures, to be 
expressly chosen by the people to consider and decide 

"16. Resolved, That the House will to-morrow resolve 
itself into a committee of the whole House, to consider of 
the state of the American Union." 

Wednesday, May 30. The Hon. Roger Sherman, a 
deputy from the State of Connecticut, appeared and took 
his seat. 

The House went into Committee of the Whole, Mr. 
Gorham in the Chair, on the resolutions of Mr. Randolph. 

Mr. Madison moved " that the equality of suffrage 
established by the Articles of Confederation, ought not to 
prevail in the national legislature ; and that an equitable 
ratio of representation ought to be substituted." This 
was opposed, on the ground that the deputies from* Dela- 
ware were instructed not to assent to such a change, and 
they would therefore retire should it be adopted. After 
some discussion the Committee rose and the House ad- 

Thursday, May 1. The Hon. William Pierce, of Georgia, 
took his seat. 

Mr. Randolph's third resolution, "that the national 
legislature ought to consist of two branches," was agreed 
to without dissent, except from Dr. Franklin of Pennsyl- 

The first clause of the fourth resolution, " that the mem- 
bers of the first branch of the national legislature ought 


to be elected by the people of the several States," was 
taken up. 

Mr. Sherman opposed election by the people, and said 
it ought to be by the State legislatures; that the people 
were constantly liable to be misled. 

Mr. Gerry also opposed election by the people, laying 
that we had been having an exetM of democracy heretofore. 
Pretended patriots would dupe and deceive the people — 
that they had done it heretofore in Massachosel 

Mr. Madison considered the election of one branch by 
the people as essential to every plan of a free government. 
lie thought that the great fabric to be raised would be 
more stable and durable, if it should rest on the solid 
foundation of the people themselves, than if it should stand 
merely on the pillars of the legislatures. 

On the question for election by the people, Ayes G, 
Noes 2, Connecticut and Delawaro divided. 

[The reader will here observe that the votes of the Con- 
vention in all cases were taken by State?.] 

It was then moved to elect the members of the second 
branch by the members of the first. This, after considera- 
ble discussion, was voted down. 

Friday, June 1. The Hon. William Honstoun, from 
Georgia, took his seat. 

The Committee of the Whole proceeded to the seventh 
resolution, "that a national executive be instituted, to be 
chosen by the national legislature for the term of years, 
to be ineligible thereafter, &c." 

Mr. Pinckney was for a vigorous executive, but was 
afraid it might run into a monarchy. 

Mr. Wilson was for a single executive. 

Dr. Franklin wanted the question discussed, as it was 
very important. 

Mr. Sherman thought the executive should be elected by 


Mr. Madison opposed fixing the executive till his powers 
were first agreed upon. Pending the discussion the House 

Saturday, June 2. William S. Johnson, from Connecti- 
cut, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, from Maryland, and 
John Lansing, Jr., from New York, took their seats. 

The motion to elect the executive by the national legis- 
lature for the term of seven years was agreed to. 

Monday, June 4. It was agreed that the executive 
should consist of but one person, New York, Delaware and 
Maryland voting No. It was also agreed that the execu- 
tive should have the right of veto. It was also agreed that 
a national judiciary, to consist of one supreme tribunal, and 
one or more inferior, should be constituted. 

Tuesday, June 5. On the question of choosing the 
judiciary by the national legislature, 

Dr. Franklin suggested the Scotch mode of letting the 
lawyers choose the judges, as they would always choose the 
ablest of the profession in order to get his practice them- 

Mr. Madison was opposed to electing judges by the legis- 
lature, or by any numerous body, and was inclined to give 
it to the Senate. 

William Livingston, from New Jersey, took his seat. 

Wednesday, June 6. Mr. Pinckney moved "that the 
first branch of the national legislature be elected by the 
State legislatures, and not by the people." 

Mr. Mason spoke against this motion. He said that 
under the confederacy Congress represented the States, not 
the people ; under the present plan of government Con- 
gress should represent the people, therefore should be chosen 
by the people. 

Mr. Dickinson proposed that the two systems should be 
blended. Let one branch come directly from the people, 
and the other be chosen by the State legislatures. One 


would thus represent the people, and the other the interests 
of the States, and being independent they would operate as 
checks upon each other. 

Mr. Read thought too much attachment was betrayed 
for the State governments. The national government must 
of necessity swallow them up. If we do not establish a 
good and strong government we should soon have to do the 
work over again. 

Mr. Pinckncy and Mr. Wilson were for preserving the 
State governments. The motion of Mr. Pinckney to elect 
the first branch by the State legislatures was then nega- 

From June 7th till the 14th, the Convention was engaged 
in the discussion of the remainder of Mr. Randolph's reso- 
lutions, when they were reported to the House with amend- 

June 15. Mr. Patterson submitted a series of resolu- 
tions, which were afterward designated as "the Jersey 
plan." They were postponed, however, and on the 19th 
voted down, receiving but three votes. 

June 18. Mr. Hamilton addressed the Convention, and 
at the close of his remarks, offered his plan of government. 
We give both the speech and the plan, from Mr. Yates' 
notes, who observes that Mr. Hamilton saw and corrected 

* The reader cannot fail to observe, from this discussion, the 
design of the framers of the Constitution in giving each State 
an equal representation in the Senate, and of electing that 
branch (the second branch) by the State legislatures, viz.: that 
the Senate should be the conservator of State sovereignty, as 
suggested by Mr. Dickinson, while the House (the first branch) 
should represent the people. A happy blending of the two sys- 
tems proposed, and a full answer to the objection so frequently 
raised in large States, that they have no more power in the 
Senate than the smallest. It is here that the strongest barrier 
against the despotism of a central government is erected. May 
it never be pulled down ! 


the speech at the time. It is worthy of note that, from this 
speech and plan of government sprang the political ani- 
mosity between Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Hamilton, that fin- 
ally resulted in the organization of two great political parties^ 
Federal and Republican, under the lead of those truly great 
men. Mr. Hamilton, it will be seen, was cautious as to 
trusting power in the hands of the people, and advocated a 
kind of elective monarchy. Mr. Jefferson took the oppo- 
site view, and, in some form or other, those distinctive 
ideas, modified, it is true, have pervaded the politics of the 
country ever since. 

Mr. Hamilton said : To deliver my sentiments on so impor- 
tant a subject, when the first characters of the Union have 
gone before me, inspires me with the greatest diffidence, 
especially when my own ideas are so materially dissimilar 
to the plans now before the committee. My situation is 
disagreeable ; but it would be criminal not to come forward 
on a question of so much magnitude. I have well consid- 
ered the subject, and am convinced that no amendment of 
the Confederation can answer the purpose of a good gov- 
ernment, so long as the State sovereignties do, in any 
shape exist ; and I have great doubts whether a national 
government on the Virginia plan, can be made effectual. 
What is federal ? An association of several independent 
States into one. How or in what manner this association 
is formed, is not so clearly distinguishable. We find that 
the diet of Germany has, in some instances, the power of 
legislation on individuals. We find the United States of 
America have it in an extensive degree in the case of 

Let us now review the powers with which we are in- 
vested. We are appointed with the sole and express pur- 
pose of revising the Confederation, and to alter or amend it, 
so as to render it effectual for the purpose of a good gov- 
ernment. Those who suppose it to be federal, lay great 


stress on the terms sole and express, as if these words in- 
tended a confinement to a federal government, when the 
manifest import is no more than that the institution of a 
good government must be the sole and express object of 
your deliberations. Nor can we suppose an annihilation 
of our powers by forming a national government, as many 
of the States have made in their constitutions no proper 
provisions for any alterations, and thus much I can say for 
the State I have the honor to represent, that when our 
credentials were under consideration in the Senate, some 
members were for inserting a restriction in the powers, to 
prevent an encroachment on the constitution : it was an- 
swered by others, and thereupon the resolve carried on the 
credentials, that it might abridge the constitutional powers 
of the State, and that possibly in the formation of a new 
Union, it would be found necessary. This seems reason- 
able, and leaves us at liberty to form such a national gov- 
ernment as we think best adapted to the whole. I have 
therefore no difficulty as to the extent of our powers, nor 
do I feel myself restrained in the exercise of my judgment 
under them. We can only propose and recommend; — the 
power of ratifying or rejecting is still in the States. But 
on this great question I am still embarrassed. I have be- 
fore observed my apprehension of the inefficacy of either 
plan, and I have doubts whether a more energetic govern- 
ment can pervade this wide and extensive country. I shall 
now show that both plans are materially defective. 

1. A good government ought to be coustant, and ought 
to contain an active principle. 2. Utility and necessity. 
3. An habitual sense of obligation. 4. Force. 5. Influ- 
ence. I hold it that different societies have all different 
views and interests to pursue, and always prefer local to 
general concerns. For example, the New York Legisla- 
ture made an external compliance lately to a requisition of 
Congress; but do they not, at the same time, counteract 


their compliance by gratifying the local objects of the 
State, so as to defeat their concession ? And this will ever 
be the case. Men always love power, and States will prefer 
their particular concerns to the general welfare ; and as 
the States become large and important, will they not be 
less attentive to the general government ? What, in pro- 
cess of time, will Virginia be ? She contains now half a 
million inhabitants; in twenty-five years she will double 
that number. Feeling her own weight and importance, 
must she not become indifferent to the concerns of the 
Union ? And where in such a situation will be found 
national attachment to the general government ? 

By force I mean the coercion of law and the coercion of 
arms. Will this remark apply to the power invested to be 
instituted by their plan ? A delinquent must be compelled 
to obedience by force of arms. How is this to be done ? 
If you are unsuccessful, a dissolution of your government 
must be the consequence ; and in that case the individual 
legislatures will resume their powers ; nay, will not the 
interests of the States be thrown into the State govern- 
ments ? 

By influence I mean the regular weight and support it 
will receive from those who find it their interest to support 
a government intended to preserve the peace and happiness 
of the community on the whole. The State governments, 
by either plan, will exert the means to counteract it. They 
have their State judges and militia, all combined to support 
their State interests ; and these will be influenced to oppose 
a national government. Either plan therefore is precarious. 
The national government cannot long exist, opposed by so 
weighty a rival. The experience of ancient and modern 
confederacies evinces this point, and throws considerable 
light on the subject. The Amphictyonic council of Greece 
had a right to require of its members troops, money, and 
the force of the country. Were they obeyed in the exer- 


cisc of those powers ? Could they preserve the peace of 
the greater States and republics 1 Or, where were they 
obeyed ? History shows that their decrees were disre- 
garded, and that the stronger States, regardless of their 
power, gave law to the lesser. 

Let us examine the Federal Institutions of Germany, It 
was instituted upon the laudable principle of securing the 
independency of the several States of which it was composed, 
and to protect them against foreign invasion. lias it 
answered these good intentions? Do we not see that their 
councils are weak and distracted, and that it cannot prevent 
the w T ars and confusions which the respective electors carry 
on against each other ? The Swiss Cantons, or the Helvetic 
Union, are equally Insufficient 

Such are the lessons which the experience of others affords 
us, and from whence results the evident conclusion that all 
Federal Governments are weak and distracted. To avoid 
the evils deducible from these observations, we must establish 
a general and national government, completely sovereign, 
and annihilate the State distinctions and State operations; 
and unless we do this, no good purpose can be answered. 
What does the Jersey plan propose ? It surely has not 
this for its object. By this we grant the regulations of 
trade and a more effectual collection of the revenue, and 
some partial duties. These, at five or ten per cent., would 
only perhaps amount to a fund to discharge the debt of the 

Let us take a review of the variety of important objects 
which must necessarily engage the attention of a national 
government. You have to protect your rights against 
Canada on the North, Spain on the South, and your western 
frontier against the savages, you have to adopt necessary 
plans for the settlement of your frontiers, and to institute 
the mode in which settlements and good governments are 
to be made. 


How is the expense of supporting and regulating these 
Important matters to be defrayed ? By requisition on the 
States according to the Jersey plan ? Will this do it. We 
have already found it ineffectual. Let one state prove de- 
linquent, and it will encourage others to follow the example ; 
and thus the whole will fail. And what is the standard by 
which to quota among the States their respective propor- 
tions ? Can lands be the standard ? How would that 
apply between Russia and Holland ? Compare Pennsyl- 
vania with North Carolina, or Connecticut with New York. 
Does not commerce or industry in the one or the other 
make a great disparity, between these different countries, 
and may not the comparative value of the States, from these 
circumstances, make an unequal disproportion when the data 
are numbers ? I therefore conclude that either system 
would ultimately destroy the Confederation, or any other 
government which is established on such fallacious prin- 
ciples. Perhaps imposts — taxes on specific articles — would 
produce a more equal system of drawing a revenue. 

Another objection against the Jersey plan is, the unequal 
representation. Can the great States consent to this ? If 
they did, it would eventually work its own destruction. 
How are forces to be raised by the Jersey plan ? By 
quotas ? Will the States comply with the requisition ? As 
much as they will with the taxes. 

Examine the present Confederation, and it is evident 
they can raise no troops, and equip no vessels, before war 
is actually declared. They cannot, therefore, take any pre- 
paratory measure before an enemy is at your door. How 
unwise and inadequate their powers ! And this must ever 
be the case when you attempt to define powers ; something 
will always be wanting. Congress, by being annually 
elected, and subject to recall, will ever come with the pre- 
judices of their States, rather than the good of the Union. 
Add therefore, additional powers to a body organized, and 


you establish a Bovereignty of the worst kind consisting of a 
single body. Where are the checks? None. They most 
either prevail over the State governments, or the prevalence 
of the State governments must end in their dissolution. 
This is a conclusive objection to the Jersey plan. 

Such are the insuperable objections to both plans, and 
what is to be done on this occasion ? I confess I am at a 
loss. I foresee the difficulty, on a consolidated plan, of 
drawing a representation from so extensive a continent to 
one place. What can be the inducements for gentlemen to 
come six hundred miles to a legislature ? The expense 
would at least amount to a hundred thousand pounds. This, 
however, can be no conclusive objection, if it eventuates in 
an extinction of State governments: reduced to corpora- 
tions, and with very limited powers, they might be necessary, 
and the expense of the national government less burdensome. 

Yet, I confess, I see great difficulty of drawing forth a 
good representation. What, for example, will be the in- 
ducements for gentlemen of fortune and abilities to leave 
their houses and business to attend annually and long ? It 
cannot be the wages ; for these, I presume, must be small. 
Will not the power, therefore, be thrown into the hands of 
the demagogue or middling politician — who, for the sake 
of a small stipend and the hopes of advancement, will offer 
himself as a candidate, and the real men of weight and in- 
fluence, by remaining at home, add strength to the State 
governments ? I am at a loss to know what must be done. 
I despair that a republican form of government can remove 
the difficulties. Whatever may be my opinion, I would hold 
it, however, unwise to change that form of government. I be- 
lieve the British Government forms the best model the 
world ever produced ; and such has been its progress in the 
minds of many, that the truth gradually gains ground. 
This government has for its object public strength and iridic 
vidual security. It is said with us to be unattainable. If 


it was once formed, it would maintain itself. All commu- 
nities divide themselves into the few and the many. The 
first are the rich and well born, the others the mass of the 
people. The voice of the people is said to be the voice of 
God ; and, however generally this maxim has been quoted 
and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbu- 
lent and changing ; they seldom judge or determine rightly. 
Give, therefore, the first class a distinct and permanent 
share in the government. They will check the unsteadiness 
of the second, and as they cannot receive any advantage by 
change, they therefore will ever maintain good government. 
Can a democratic assembly, who annually revolve in the 
mass of people, be supposed steadily to pursue the pub- 
lic good ? Nothing but a permanent body can check the 
imprudence of democracy ; their turbulent and incontrolla- 
ble disposition requires checks. The Senate of New York, 
although chosen for four years, we have found to be ineffi- 
cient. Will, on the Virginia plan, a continuance of seven 
years do it ? It is admitted that you cannot have a good 
executive upon a democratic plan. See the excellency of 
the British executive. lie is above temptation — he can 
have no distinct interest from the public welfare. Nothing 
short of such an executive can be efficient. The weak side 
of a republican government is the danger of foreign influence. 
This is unavoidable, unless it is so constructed as to bring 
forward its first characters in its support. I am, therefore, 
for a general government, yet would wish to go the full length 
of the republican principle. 

Let one body of the legislature be constituted during 
good behavior, or life. 

Let one executive be appointed, who dares execute his 
powers. It may be asked, Is this a republican system ? 
It is strictly so, as long as they remain elective. 

And let me observe, that an executive is less dangerous 


to the liberties of the people, when in office during life, 
than for seven years. 

It may be said this constitutes an elective monarchy. 
Pray what is a monarch ? May not the: governors of the 
respective States be considered in that light ? But by 
making the executive subject to impeachment, the term 
monarch cannot apply. These elective monarchs have 
produced tumults in Rome, and are equally dangerous to 
peace in Poland ; but this cannot apply to the mode in 
which I propose the election. Let electors be appointed 
in each of the States, to elect the legislature, to consist of 
two branches ; and I would give them the power of passing 
all laws, without exception. The assembly to be elected 
for three years, by the people, in districts ; the senate to 
be elected by electors, to be chosen for that purpose by the 
people, and to remain In office during life. The executive 
to have the power of negativing all laws; to make war or 
peace, with the advice of the senate ; to make treaties, 
with their advice ; but to have the sole directions in all 
military operations, and to send ambassadors, and appoint 
all military officers, and to pardon all offenders, treason ex- 
cepted, unless by the advice of the senate. On his death, 
or removal, the president of the senate to officiate, with 
the same powers, until another is elected. Supreme ju- 
dicial officers to be appointed by the executive and the 
senate. The legislature to appoint courts in each state, 
so as to make the State government unnecessary to it. 

All State laws to be absolutely void, which contravene 
the general laws. An officer appointed in each State to 
have a negative on all laws. All the militia, and the ap- 
pointment of officers, to be under the national govern- 

I confess that this plan, and that from Virginia, are 
very remote from the idea of the people ; perhaps the Jer- 
sey plan is nearest their expectation. But the people are 


gradually ripening in their opinions of government — they 
begin to be tired of an excess of democracy — and what 
even is the Yirginia plan, but pork still, with a little 
change of the sauce t 

The following is Mr. Hamilton's plan : 

" 1. The supreme legislative power of the United States 
of America to be vested in two different bodies of men ; 
the one to be called the assembly, the other the senate ; 
who, together, shall form the legislature of the United 
States, with power to pass all laws whatsoever, subject to 
the negative hereafter mentioned. 

"2. The assembly to consist of persons elected by the 
people, to serve for three years. 

" 3. The senate to consist of persons elected to serve 
during good behavior ; their election to be made by elect- 
ors chosen for that purpose by the people. In order to 
this, the states to be divided into election districts. On 
the death, removal, or resignation of any senator, his place 
to be filled out of the district from which he came. 

" 4. The supreme executive authority of the United 
States to be vested in a governor, to be elected to serve 
during good behavior ; the election to be made by electors 
chosen by the people in the election districts aforesaid. 
The authorities and functions of the executive to be as fol- 
lows : To have a negative on all laws about to be passed, 
and the execution of all laws passed ; to have the direction 
of war when authorized or begun ; to have, with the ad- 
vice and approbation of the senate, the power of making 
all treaties ; to have the sole appointment of the heads or 
chief officers of the departments of finance, war, and foreign 
affairs ; to have the nomination of all other officers, (am- 
bassadors to foreign nations included,) subject to the ap- 
probation or rejection of the senate ; to have the power of 
pardoning all offenses except treason, which he shall not 
pardon without the approbation of the senate. 


" 5. On the death, resignation, or removal of the gov- 
ernor, his authorities to be exercised by the president ol 
the senate till a successor be appointed. 

" 6. The senate to have the sole power of declaring war ; 
the power of advising and approving all treaties; the 
power of approving or rejecting all appointments of officers, 
except the heads or chiefs of the departments of finance, 
war, and foreign affairs. 

" 7. The supreme judicial authority to be vested in 
judges, to hold their offices during good behavior, with ad- 
equate and permanent salaries. This court to have original 
jurisdiction in all causes of capture, and an appellative 
jurisdiction in all causes in which the revenues of the gen- 
eral government, or the citizens of foreign nations, are 

" 8. The legislature of the United States to have power 
to institute courts in each state for the determination of all 
matters of general concern. 

" 9. The governor, senators, and all officers of the United 
States, to be liable to impeachment for mal and corrupt 
conduct ; and, upon conviction, to be removed from office, 
and disqualified for holding any place of trust or profit ; 
all impeachments to be tried by a court to consist of the 

chief , or judge of the superior court of law of each 

State, provided such judge shall hold his place during good 
behavior, and have a permanent salary. 

"10. All laws of the particular States contrary to the 
Constitution or laws of the United States, to be utterly 
void ; and, the better to prevent such laws being passed, 
the governor Qr president of each State shall be appointed 
by the general government, and shall have a negative upon 
the laws about to be passed in the State of which he is the 
governor or president. 

" 11. No State to have any forces, land or naval ; and 
the militia of all the States to be under the sole and exclu- 


sire direction of the United States, the officers of which to 
he appointed and commissioned by them." 

June 20. Hon. William Blount, from North Carolina, 
took his seat. 

Mr. Lansing moved "that the power of legislation be 
vested in the United States in Congress." This proposi- 
tion was discussed all day. It was adopted. 

June 21. Hon. Jonathan Dayton, of New Jersey, took 
his seat. 

The second resolution — " that the legislature shall con- 
sist of two branches," was taken up and discussed by 
Dr. Johnson, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Madison, and was 

Gen. Pinckney moved that the first branch should be 
elected in such manner as the State legislatures should 
direct. This was opposed by Mr. Mason, Mr. Sherman 
and others, who advocated election by the people. The 
motion was lost. 

On the original question of election of the first branch by 
the people, it was carried, — New Jersey alone voting No, 
and Maryland divided. 

On the question that the members should be elected for 
three years, Mr. Randolph moved to amend by substituting 
" two years." 

Mr. Wilson preferred annual elections, as likely to make 
the representative feel his dependence upon his constituents. 

Mr. Madison thought annual elections, or even biennial, 
would be too great a burden upon the people, and attended 
with much inconvenience. 

Col. Hamilton was for three years, and on the question, 
the amendment for two years was agreed to. 

June 22. The question of compensation of members, 
their age, and eligibility, was discussed this and the day 

June 25. The fourth resolution, " that the members of 


the second branch (Senate) ought to be chosen by tie 
State Legislatures and hold their office seven years," was 
taken up. 

Mr. Pinckney advocated the resolution. lie thought 
there should be one branch removed from the influences to 
be apprehended from the fluctuations of the popular pas- 
sions. The States, too, should be guaranteed some protec- 
tion for their sovereignty, otherwise the State governments 
would be overborne by the national government. 

Mr. Wilson opposed election by the legislatures as likely 
to foster local pride and prejudices. 

On the question to elect by the State legislatures, it m 
agreed to, Pennsylvania and Virginia only voting No. 

It was then agreed that no person should be eligible for 
senator till he had arrived at the age of thirty years. 

Jane 26. The term of office for senators being under 

Mr. Gorham moved six years. Mr. Pinckney was in 
favor of four years. Mr. Read favored nine years. 

Mr. Madison said that we are now digesting a plan 
which in its operations will decide forever the fate of 
republican government. We ought therefore to provide 
every possible guard and check to liberty. Those charged 
with the public happiness may betray their trust. Prudence 
would dictate that we should so organize that one body 
might watch and check the other. We should select a 
limited number of enlightened citizens, whose firmness 
might be interposed against impetuous counsels. 

Mr. Hamilton concurred with Mr. Madison. On the 
question for nine years it was lost ; and on the question for 
six years it was agreed to. 

On the question of compensation, Mr. Pinckney proposed 
that the senators should receive no pay, as that branch was 
designed to represent the wealth of the country, and it 
Bhould be so ordered that none but the wealthy could take 


that office. Dr. Frauklin seconded the motion. The mo- 
tion was lost. Ayes 5, Noes 6. 

It was then moved that the senators be paid by their 
respective States. Lost. And on the question that they 
be paid out of the national treasury, it was lost. 

June 27. On the seventh resolution, that the right of 
suffrage in the first branch should be according to an 
equitable ratio. 

Mr. Martin contended with great zeal that the general 
government was meant to preserve the State governments 
merely, and not to govern individuals ; and that its powers 
ought, therefore, to be kept in very narrow limits. That 
to give representation according to population would place 
it in the power of the large States to crush out the small 
ones. The vote should be by States and then all would 
stand upon the same platform of equality. 

June, 28. Mr. Madison replied to Mr. Martin's speech 
on representation, and in a lengthy argument advocated repre- 
sentation in the first branch (House) according to the popula- 
tion. The debate lasted two days during which much angry 
feeling was manifested. The small States were determined 
that no provision should pass that did not give them an 
equal vote with the large States. Some idea of the difficul- 
ties encountered at this time may be gathered from a speech 
of Dr. Franklin near the close of the second day's proceed- 
ings. We copy it entire : 

Dr. Franklin. — Mr. President: The small progress we 
have made after four or five weeks' close attendance and 
continued reasonings with each other — our different senti- 
ments on almost every question, several of the last produc- 
ing as many noes as ayes — is, methinks, a melancholy proof 
of the imperfection of the human understanding. We, in- 
deed, seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since 
we have been running about in search of it. We have gone 


back to ancient history for models of government, and ex- 
amined the different forma of those republics which, having 
been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution, now 
no longer exist. And we have viewed modem Suites all 
round Europe, but find none el their constitutions suitable 
to our circumstances. 

In this situation of ' this assembly, groping as if were in the 
dark to find political truth, and scarce able to perceive it 
when presented to us, how has it happened, rir, that we have 
not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father 
of lights to illuminate our understandings ? In the be- 
ginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were 
sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the 
Divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard, and they 
were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in 
the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a su- 
perintending Providence in our favor. 

To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of 
consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future na- 
tional felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful 
friend ? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assist- 
ance ? I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live the 
more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs 
in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the 
ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire 
can rise without his aid ? We have been answered, sir, in 
the sacred writings, that "except the Lord build the house, 
they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this ; 
and I also firmly believe this, that without his concurring 
aid we shall succeed, in this political building, no better 
than the builders of Babel. We shall be divided by our 
little partial local interests ; our projects will be confounded ; 
and we shall ourselves become a reproach and by-word down 
to future ages. And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, 
from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing 


governments by human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, 
and conquest. 

I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers, 
imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessings on our 
deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before 
we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy 
of this city be requested to officiate in that service. 

Mr. Sherman seconded the motion. 

Mr. Hamilton was fearful that if the motion should be 
adopted it would alarm the people, who would think that 
some extraordinary emergency had arisen in the Conven- 
tion. It would have been well to have adopted such a mo- 
tion at the beginning of the session. 

Mr. Randolph proposed that a sermon be preached 
on the fourth of July, and after that prayers. An ad- 
journment was finally carried without a vote by ayes and 

June 29. — Dr. Johnson said this controversy seemed 
endless. On the one side the States were considered as 
districts of people, and hence entitled to representation ac- 
cording to their numbers ; on the other side it was con- 
tended that they were political societies, and hence each 
should be represented equally. He suggested that each 
side was partially right, and that therefore the true ground 
was a compromise; let one branch represent exclusively 
the people and the other (the Senate) represent the 

Mr. Madison agreed with Dr. Johnson, that the mixed 
nature of the government ought to be kept in view. He 
made a lengthy speech in favor of this proposition. The 
debate was continued through the day, and it was finally 
agreed that the representation should be according to the 
ratio of inhabitants. 

June 30. — Mr. Brearly moved that the President write 
to the Executive of New Hampshire requesting the iuime- 


diate attendance of the delegates from that State, as the 
difficulties of the Convention are such, that they wanted all 
the aid possible. Not agreed to. 

Mr. Ellsworth moved that each State be allowed an 
equal vote in the second branch, and supported his motion 
by a lengthy argument. 

Mr. Wilson opposed the motion. He said we were 
forming a government for men, not for imaginary States. 

Mr. Madison thought the difficulty was not between the 
large and small States, but really between the States having 
slaves and those not having, or expecting soon not to have 
slaves. He thought a fair compromise would be to have 
one branch represented according to the number of free 
inhabitants only, and the other represented by the whole, 
counting the slaves as freemen, instead of counting them 
as five to three. 13y this arrangement the southern scale 
would have the advantage in one House and the northern 
in the other. 

Dr. Franklin thought "both sides must part with some of 
their demands." 

The discussion was continued through the day without 
arriving at any conclusion. 

July 2. — On the question allowing each State one vote 
in the second branch it was lost. Ayes 5. Noes 5. 

General Piuckney proposed that a committee of one from 
each State should be appointed to devise and report a com- 

Mr. Morris favored a committee. He said the object of 
the second branch was to check the excesses of the first 
branch. He thought it must be a branch of property 
interest, and must also be permanent in order to give sta- 
bility to the government. Without it the country would 
have no confidence in the plan. Loaves and fishes 
would bribe demagogues. Give us a senate for life, with* 


out pay, and we will have an honest and conservative 

Mr. Madison opposed the committee. It was discussed 
at length, and on the question, nine States voted Aye. New 
Jersey and Delaware voted No. 

The committee was elected by ballot, and was composed 
of Messrs. Gerry, Ellsworth, Yates, Patterson, Dr. Franklin, 
Bedford, Martin, Mason, Davie, Rutledge and Baldwin. To 
give the committee time to deliberate, the Convention ad- 
journed till Thursday the 5th. 

July 5. Mr. Gerry, from the committee appointed on 
Monday last, made the following report : 

1. That in the first branch each State shall be allowed 
one member for every forty thousand inhabitants, counting 
all free persons and three-fifths of the slaves, and that all 
money bills, or bills fixing salaries of public officers, shall 
originate in the first branch, and shall not be altered or 
amended by the second branch. 

2. That in the second branch each State shall have an 
equal vote. 

[Note. — This report was considered as a compromise be- 
tween the large and small States. The large States were 
apprehensive that by allowing the small ones an equal 
representation in the Senate, they might, by combination, 
vote undue burdens upon them in the way of appropria- 
tions of the public money. Hence, the arrangement that 
money bills shall originate in the House where the repre- 
sentation is in accordance with the ratio of inhabitants, thus 
protecting the large States in that branch, while the small 
States find their protection in the Senate, where they have 
an equal representation. How admirable the arrangement! 
How beautifully ordered by our fathers for the protection of 
the rights of the whole Union, is this model constitution — 
the perfection of governmental excellence — the sum total 
of the wisdom of ages in the science of self-government! 


This report was founded on a motion made, in the com- 
mittee, by Dr. Franklin.] 

Mr. Madison did not consider t lie concession of the small 
States that the House should originate all money bills as 
of much moment. He said the senators could get the 
members of the llouse to adopt their notions by handing 
them amendments, and thus avoid the eheek that this clause 
was designed to all'ord. lie thought we should form a 
government on just principles, and the small States would 
find it to their interest to adopt it. 

A long debate ensued, participated in by Messrs. Morris, 
Bedford, Ellsworth, Mason, Untied ire and others, and with- 
out the question the Convention adjourned. 

July G. Mr. Morris moved to eommij so mueh of the 
report as Delates to one member to every forty thousand in- 
habitants to a committee of live, which was agreed to. 

The clause relating to an equality of votes in the Senate 
being under consideration, it was postponed, and the clause 
relating to money bills taken up. After some discussion 
it was agreed to. 

July %, The clause allowing each State one vote in the 
Senate being up, after a long and zealous discussion, it waa 
postponed until the committee of five, on the number of 
members in the first branch, should report. 

July 9. Daniel Carroll, of Maryland, took his seat. 
Mr. Morris, from the committee of five, reported that 
the House should at first consist of forty-six members. 
New Hampshire, two ; Massachusetts, seven ; Rhode Is- 
land, one ; Connecticut, four ; New York, five ; New Jersey, 
three ; Pennsylvania, eight ; Delaware, one ; Maryland, four; 
Virginia, nine ; North Carolina, five ; South Carolina, five ; 
Georgia, two ; and that Congress should alter the number 
from time to time, as it should think proper. 

Mr. Patterson thought the proposed estimate for the 
future too vague. He could regard negro slaves in no 


light but property. They were not represented in the 
State governments, and hence should not be in the national 

Mr. Madison suggested as a compromise, that in the 
House the representation should be according to the num- 
ber of free inhabitants ; that the Senate was designed, in 
one respect, to be the guardian of property, and that branch 
should represent slaves and all. After some further dis- 
cussion, the first clause of the report was referred to. a com- 
mittee of one from each State. 

July 10. Mr. King, from the committee appoint&d 
yesterday, reported that the House should consist of sixt)- 
five members. After a long and animated discussion the 
report was adopted. South Carolina and Georgia alone 
voting No. 

July 11. Mr. Randolph's motion, requiring a census to 
be taken iu order to correct inequalities in representation, 
was taken up. 

Mr. Butler and Gen. Pinckney insisted that blacks should 
have an equal representation with the whites, and therefore 
moved that " three-fifths" be struck out. 

Mr. Gerry, and Mr. Gorham, favored three-fifths. 

Mr. Butler, said the labor of a slave in South Carolina, 
was as valuable as that of a freeman in Massachussets. 
Free negroes in the North, have an equal representa- 
tion with the whites. So should the slaves of the South 

Mr. Williamson, said that the Eastern States contended 
for the equality of blacks where taxation was in view, they 
ought then to be willing to allow an equal representation. 

On the question, Mr. Butler's motion was lost, only Dela- 
ware, South Carolina, and Georgia, voting Aye. 

Mr. Morris, said that if slaves were to be considered as 
inhabitants, not as wealth, then there would be no use for 


a census, so far as they were concerned ; if simply as wealth, 
then why not other wealth be included ? 

Mr. Sherman, was in favor of leaving the whole matter 
to the discretion of the legislature. 

Mr. Morris, said that the people of Pennsylvania would 
revolt at the idea of being placed on a level with slaves 
in representation. They would reject any plan in which 
slaves were included in the census. 

On the question of taking a census of free Inhabitants, it 
passed in the affirmative. 

The next clause, as to three-fifths of the negroes, being 
considered, Mr. King opposed the clause. lie thought the 
admission of blacks in the representation would excite great 
discontents among the people. 

Mr. Gorham, of Massachusetts, favored the three-fifths 

Mr. Wilson, of Pennsylvania, said if negroes were pro- 
perty, why not represent other property ? — if they wero 
citizens, why not let them be represented as such ? 

Mr. Morris, thought that representation for blacks would 
encourage the slave trade. 

On the question for including "three-fifths" of the blacks, 
it was lost. All the Northern States, except Connecticut, 
voted No. 

July 12. Mr. Morris, moved "that taxation be in pro- 
portion to representation." 

Dr. Johnson thought population the best measure of 
wealth, and therefore, would include the blacks equally 
with the whites. 

Mr. Morris, thought the people of Pennsylvania could 
never agree to a representation of negroes. 

Gen. Pinckney, desired that property in slaves should be 
protected and not left exposed to danger. 

Mr. Ellsworth, moved that the rule of taxation shall be 


according to the whole number of white inhabitants and 
three-fifths of every other description, until some other rule, 
by which the wealth of the States can be ascertained, shall 
be adopted by the legislature. 

Mr. Randolph opposed this amendment. He urged 
that express security ought to be provided for including 
slaves in representation. He lamented that such property 
existed ; but as it did exist, the holders of it should require 
this security in the Constitution and not leave it to the 
caprice of the legislative body. 

Mr. Wilson thought there would be less umbrage taken 
by the people by adopting the rule of representation accord- 
ing to taxation. The slaves would be taxed and thus indi- 
rectly represented. 

Mr. Pinckney moved to amend so as to make blacks 
equal to whites in representation. He said the blacks 
would be all numbered in the representation of the North, 
ani they were as productive in material resources to the 
country in the South as in the North. He thought this no 
more than justice. 

On Mr. Pinckney's motion, only South Carolina and 
Georgia voted Aye. 

On the question apportioning representation to direct 
taxation, to the whole of the white and three-fifths of the 
black population, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, 
Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia voted Aye ; New 
Jersey and Delaware voted No ; Massachusetts and South 
Carolina divided. 

July 14. From this date till the lHh, the Convention 
was engaged in an animated discussion on the equality of 
votes in the Senate from each State. On the 16th a mo- 
tion was made to adjourn sine die, on the ground that the 
Convention could never agree to the exactions of the 
smaller States. An equality vote was, however, agreed to. 
North Carolina and Massachusetts divided j 5 Ayes, 4 Noes. 


July 17. The Convention proceeded to the considera- 
tion of a resolution concerning the two branches of the 

legislature, and from tin's date till the -»>ih W9B engaged in 
discussing the executive, legislative, aid judicial branches 
of the government. Jsothing, however, was elicited that 
would properly come within the BOOpe of this work, or that 
would be particularly interesting to the general reader. 

On the 26th, the resolutions of Mr. Randolph having 
been a second time gone through with, the)-, together with 
those of Messrs. Patterson and l'iin.-kney, were referred to 
the Committee of Detail, and the Convention adjourned till 
August 6th, to give the Committee time to prepare and 
report a Constitution. 

The resolutions as committed, expressing the sense of the 
Convention upon the principles of a Constitution, were as 
follows : 

1. Resohrd, That the government of the United States 
ought to consist of a supreme legislative, judiciary, and 

2. Resolved, That the legislature consist of two branches. 

3. Resolved, That the members of the first branch of the 
legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several 
States for the term of two years ; to be paid out of the 
public treasury ; to receive an adequate compensation for 
their services ; to be of the age of twenty-five years at 
least; to be ineligible to, and incapable of holding, any 
office under the authority of the United States (except 
those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the first 
branch) during the term of service of the first branch. 

4. Resolved, That the members of the second branch of 
the legislature of the United States ought to be chosen by 
the individual legislatures ; to be of the age of thirty years 
at least ; to hold their offices for six years, one third to go 
out biennially ; to receive a compensation for the devotion 
of their time to the public service ; to be ineligible to, and 


incapable of holding, any office under the authority of the 
United States (except those peculiarly belonging to the 
functions of the second branch) during the term for which 
they are elected, and for one year thereafter. 

5. Resolved, That each branch ought to possess the 
right of originating acts. 

6. Resolved, That the national legislature ought to 
possess the legislative rights vested in Congress by the 
Confederation; and, moreover, to legislate in all cases for 
the general interests of the Union, and also in those to 
which the States are separately incompetent, or in which 
the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by 
the exercise of individual legislation. 

7. Resolved, That the legislative acts of the United 
States, made by virtue and in pursuance of the articles of 
union, and all treaties made and ratified under the authority 
of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the 
respective States, as far as those acts or treaties shall relate 
to the said States, or their citizens and inhabitants ; and 
that the judiciaries of the several States shall be bound 
thereby in their decisions, any thing in the respective laws 
of the individual States to the contrary notwithstanding. 

8. Resolved, That in the general formation of the legis- 
lature of the United States, the first branch thereof shall 
consist of sixty-five members ; of which number, New 
Hampshire shall send 3 ; Massachusetts, 8 ; Rhode Island, 
1 ; Connecticut, 5 ; New York, 6 ; New Jersey, 4 ; Penn- 
sylvania, 8 ; Delaware, 1 ; Maryland, 6 ; Virginia, 10; North 
Carolina, 5 ; South Carolina, 5 ; Georgia, 3. 

But, as the present situation of the States may probably 
alter in the number of their inhabitants, the legislature of 
the United States shall be authorized, from time to time, to 
apportion the number of representatives ; and in case any 
of the States shall hereafter be divided, or enlarged by 
addition of territory, or any two or more States united, or 


any now States created within the limits of the United 
States, the legislature of the United States shall possess 
authority to regulate the number of representatives, in any 
of the foregoing cases, upon the principle of their number 
of inhabitants, according to the provisions hereafter men- 
tioned, namely — Provided always, that representation ought 
to be proportioned to direct taxation. And, in order to 
ascertain the alteration in the direct taxation which may lie 
required from time to time, by the changes in the relative 
circumstances of the States, — 

9. Resolved, That a census be taken within six years 
from the first meeting of the legislature of the United 
States, and once within the term of every ten years after- 
wards, of all the inhabitants of the United States, in the 
manner and according to the ratio recommended by Con- 
gress in their resolution of the 18th of April, 1783; and 
that the legislature of the United States shall proportion 
the direct taxation accordingly. 

10. Resolved, That all bills for raising or appropriating 
money, and for fixing the salaries of the officers of the 
government of the United States, shall originate in the 
first branch of the legislature of the United States, and 
shall not be altered or amended by the second branch ; and 
that no money shall be drawn from the public treasury, 
but in pursuance of appropriations to be originated by the 
first branch. 

11. Resolved, That, in the second branch of the legisla- 
ture of the United States, each State shall have an equal 

12. Resolved, That a national executive be instituted, to 
consist of a single person ; to be chosen by the national 
legislature for the term of seven years ; to be ineligible a 
second time ; with power to carry into execution the 
national laws ; to appoint to offices in cases not otherwise 
provided for j to be removable on impeachment, and con- 


viction of malpractice or neglect of duty ; to receive a 
fixed compensation for the devotion of his time to the pub- 
lic service, to be paid out of the public treasury. 

13. Resolved, That the national executive shall have a 
right to negative any legislative act ; which shall not be 
afterwards passed, unless by two-thirds of each branch of 
the national legislature. 

14. Resolved, That a national judiciary be established, 
to consist of one supreme tribunal, the judges of which 
shall be appointed by the second branch of the national 
legislature; to hold their offices during good behavior; to 
receive punctually, at stated times, a fixed compensation for 
their services, in which no diminution, shall be made so as 
to affect the persons actually in office at the time of such 

15. Resolved, That the national legislature be empowered 
to appoint inferior tribunals. 

16. Resolved, That the jurisdiction of the national judi- 
ciary shall extend to cases arising under laws passed by the 
general legislature, and to such other questions as involve 
the national peace and harmony. 

17. Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the 
admission of States lawfully arising within the limits of the 
United States, whether from a voluntary junction of gov- 
ernment and territory, or otherwise, with the consent of a 
number of voices in the national legislature less than the 

18. Resolved, That a republican form of government 
shall be guaranteed to each State ; and that each State shall 
be protected against foreign and domestic violence. 

19. Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the 
amendment of the articles of union, whensoever it shall 
seem necessary. 

20. Resolved, That the legislative, executive, and judi- 
ciary powers, within the several States, and of the national 


government, ought to be bound, by oath, to support the 
articles of union. 

21. Resolved, That tlie amendment! which shall be 
offered to the Confederation bj the Convention ought, at a 
proper time or times, after the approbation of Congress, to 

be submitted to an assembly, or assemblies, of representa- 
tives, recommended by the several legislatures, to be ex- 
pressly chosen by the people to on-ider ami decide 

22. Bemlved, That the representation in the second 
branch of the legislature of the United States shall consist 

of two members from each State, who shall vote j»r <-<ipita. 

23. Resolved, That it be an instruction to the committee 
to whom were referred the proceedings of the Convention 
for the establishment of a national government, to receive 
a clause, or clauses, requiring certain qualifications of 
property and citizenship in the United States, for the 
executive, the judiciary, and the members of both branches 
of the legislature of the United States. 

A ugust 6. Mr. Rutledge delivered the report of the com- 
mittee of detail, reporting a constitution at large. [This 
report was so nearly like the constitution as finally adopted, 
and as we shall give that at the close of this chapter, it is 
not thought necessary to occupy space by copying it here ] 

August 7. The report of the committee of detail being 
taken up, Mr. Morris moved that that the right of suffrage 
be restrained to freeholders. A long debate ensued. Col. 
Mason opposed it as leading to an aristocracy. 

Mr. Madison was for leaving this matter to the States. 
Some States required it, and others did not. His own 
opinion was that freeholders w r ould be the safest depositaries 
of liberty. Those without property might become the tools 
of the rich and ambitious, hence there would be just the 
same danger as from the property qualification. 

Dr. Franklin opposed the views of Mr. Madison. He 


thought the restriction wrong in principle, and had no doubt 
it would create dissatisfaction with the people. 

On the question of Mr. Morris, only Delaware voted Aye. 
Maryland divided. 

August 8. Article 4th, section 2d, being under conside- 
ration, declating that a member of the House shall have 
been a citizen of the United States at least three years be- 
fore his election. 

Mr. Mason was for opening a wide door to emigrants, 
but thought three. years too short. Foreign nations might 
impose upon us their tools, and get them into the legisla- 
ture for insidious purposes. He moved seven years, which 
was agreed to, only Connecticut voting No. 

Section 4th, allowing the legislatures to apportion the 
representatives according to the number of inhabitants, was 
taken up. 

Mr. Morris moved to insert "free inhabitants." He said 
he would not agree to a constitution that upheld slavery. 
It was the curse of Heaven. He proceeded at length to 
demonstrate the evils of the institution. 

Mr. Sherman said he did not regard the admission of 
negroes in the ratio of representation as a great objection. 
In fact, it was only the freemen of the South who would be 
represented, because it was only them who paid the taxes. 

On the question to insert "free inhabitants," it was lost, 
only New Jersey voting Aye. 

August 9. From this date to the 18th, the Convention 
was occupied in discussing questions of naturalization, re- 
venue, &c. 

August 18. Mr. Madison submitted to be referred to the 
committee of detail the following propositions, to be incor- 
porated in the powers of Congress : 

" To dispose of the unappropriated lands of the United 


"To institute temporary governments for new States 
arising therein. 

"To regulate affairs with the Indians, «fec. n 

Mr. Pinckney also submitted several propositions, relating 
to the seat of government, public debt, post-oQiees, <fcc. 
From this till the 22d, nothing important by way of discus- 
sion transpired. 

August 22. Article 7, section 4, was resumed. 

Mr. Sherman was for leaving the clause as it stands. Ho 
disapproved of the slave trade ; yet, as the States were now 
possessed of the right to import slaves, as the public good 
did not require it to be taken from them, and as it was ex- 
pedient to have as few objections as possible tu the proposed 
scheme of government, he thought it best to leave the mat- 
ter as we find it. lie observed that the abolition of slavery 
seemed to be going on in the United States, and that the 
good sense of the several States would probably, by degrees, 
complete it. He urged on the Convention the necessity of 
dispatching its business. 

Col. Mason. This infernal traffic originated in the ava- 
rice of British merchants. The British government con- 
stantly checked the attempts of Virginia to put a stop to it. 
The present question concerns not the importing States 
alone, but the whole Union. The evil of having slaves was 
experienced during the late war. Had slaves been treated 
as they might have been by the enemy, they would have 
proved dangerous instruments in their hands. But their 
folly dealt by the slaves as it did by the tories. He men- 
tioned the dangerous insurrections of slaves in Greece and 
Sicily ; and the instructions given by Cromwell, to the com- 
missioners sent to Virginia, to arm the servants and slaves 
in case other means of obtaining its submission might fail. 
Maryland and Virginia, he said, had already prohibited the 
importation of slaves expressly ; North Carolina had done 
the same in substance. All this would be vain, if South 


Carolina and Georgia be at liberty to import. The western 
people are already calling out for slaves for their new lands, 
and will fill that country with slaves, if they can be got 
through South Carolina and Georgia. Slavery discourages 
arts and manufactures. The poor despise labor when per- 
formed by slaves. They prevent the emigration of whites, 
who really enrich and strengthen a country. They produce 
the most pernicious effect on manners. Every master of 
slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgment 
of Heaven on a country. As nations cannot be rewarded 
or punished in the next world, they must be in this. By 
an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence pun- 
ishes national sins by national calamities. He lamented 
that some of our Eastern brethren had, from a lust of gain, 
embarked in this nefarious traffic. As to the States being 
in possession of the right to import, this was the case with 
many other rights, now to be properly given up. He held 
it essential, in every point of view, that the general govern- 
ment should have power to prevent the increase of slavery. 
Mr. Ellsworth, as he had never owned a slave, could not 
judge of the effects of slavery on character. He said, how- 
ever, that if it was to be considered in a moral light, we 
ought to go further, and free those already in the country. 
As slaves also multiply so fast in Virginia and Maryland, 
that it is cheaper to raise than import them, whilst in the 
sickly rice-swamps foreign supplies are necessary, if we go 
no further than is urged, we shall be unjust toward South 
Carolina and Georgia. Let us not intermeddle. As popu- 
lation increases, poor laborers will be so plenty as to render 
slaves useless. Slavery, in time, will not be a speck in our 
country. Provision is already made in Connecticut for 
abolishing it. And the abolition has already taken place in 
Massachusetts. As to the danger of insurrections from 
foreign influence, that will become a motive to kind treat- 
ment of the slaves. 


Mr. Pinckney. If slavery be wrong, it is justified by the 
< Aumple of all the world. Bi cited the eaae of Greece, 
Rome, and other ancient Miction given by 

France, England, Holland, and other modern* states. In 
all ages, one-half of mankind have been amwea. if the 

Southern Stales were let alone, they will probably of them- 
selves stop importations. He would himself, as a eiti/.cn 
of South Carolina, vote for it. An attempt to take away 
the right, as proposed, will produce serious objections to 
the constitution which he wished to tea adopted. 

Gen. Pinckney declared it to be his linn opinion, that if 
himself and all his colleagues were to sign the constitution, 
and use their personal influence, it wonld lie of no avail 
towards obtaining the anient of their eonatiftnenta Bonah 
Carolina and Georgia cannot do without slaves. As to 
Virginia, she will gain by stopping the importations Her 
slaves will rise in value, and she has more khan she wants. 
It would be unequal to require South Carolina and Georgia 
to confederate on such unequal terms. He said the royal 
asseut, before the Revolution, had never been refused to 
South Carolina and Virginia. lie contended that the 
importation of slaves would be for the interest of the whole 
Union. The more slaves, the more produce to employ the 
carrying trade ; the more consumption also ; and the 
more of this, the more revenue for the common treasury. 
He admitted it to be reasonable that slaves should be 
treated like other imports, but should consider a rejection 
of the clause as au exclusion of South Carolina from the 

Mr. Baldwin had conceived national objects alone to be 
before the Convention, not such as, like the present, were of 
a local nature. Georgia was decided on this point. That 
State has always hitherto supposed a general government 
to be the pursuit of the ceutral States, who wished to have 
a vortex for every thing ; that her distance would preclude 


her from equal advantage; and that she could not pru- 
dently purchase it by yielding national powers. From this 
it might be understood in what light she would view an 
attempt to abridge one of her favorite prerogatives. If 
left to herself she may probably put a stop to the evil. As 
one ground for this conjecture, he took notice of the sect 
of , which was, he said, a respectable class of peo- 
ple, who carried ethics beyond the mere equality of men, 
extending their humanity to the claims of the whole animal 

Mr. Wilson observed that, if South Carolina and Georgia 
were themselves disposed to get rid of the importation of 
slaves in a short time,, as had beeu suggested, they would 
never refuse to unite because the importation might be 
prohibited. As the section now stands, all articles im- 
ported are to be taxed. Slaves alone are exempt. This is, 
in fact, a bounty on that article. 

Mr. Gerry thought we had nothing to do with the con- 
duct of the States as to slaves, but ought to be careful not 
to give any sanction to it. 

Mr. Dickinson considered it as indispensable, on every 
principle of honor and safety, that the importation of 
slaves should be authorized to the States by the Constitu- 
tion. The true question was, whether the national happi- 
ness would be promoted or impaired by the importation — 
and this question ought to be left to the national govern- 
ment — not to the States particularly interested. If Eng- 
land and France permit slavery, slaves are, at the same time, 
excluded from both those kingdoms. Greece and Rome 
were made unhappy by their slaves. He could not believe 
that the Southern States would refuse to confederate on the 
account apprehended ; especially as the power was not 
likely to be immediately exercised by the general govern- 

General Pinckney thought himself bound to say, that he 


did not think South Carolina would stop her importations 
of slaves in any short time ; but only stop them occasion- 
ally, as she now does. He moved to commit the clause, 
that slaves might be made liable to an equal tax with other 
imports; which he thought right, and which would remove 
one difficulty that had been stated. 

Mr. Kutledge. If the Convention thinks that North 
Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, will ever agree to 
the plan, unless their right to import slaves be untouched, 
the expectation is rain. The people of those States will 
never be such fools as to give up so important an interest. 
He was against striking out the section, and seconded the 
motion of General Pinrknev for a commitment. 

Mr. Gouverneur Morris wished the whole subject to be 
committed, including the clauses relating to taxes on ex- 
ports and to a navigation act. These things may form a 
bargain among the Northern and Southern States. 

Mr. Butler declared, that he never would agree to the 
power of taxing exports. 

Mr. Sherman said it was better to let the Southern States 
import slaves than to part with them, if they made that a 
sine qua non. He was opposed to a tax on slaves im- 
ported as making the matter worse, because it implied they 
were property. He acknowledged that, if the power of 
prohibiting the importation should be given to the general 
government, it would be exercised. He thought it would 
be its duty to exercise the power. 

Mr. Read was for the commitment, provided the clause 
concerning taxes on exports could also be committed. 

Mr. Sherman observed, that that clause had been agreed 
to, and therefore could not be committed. 

Mr. Randolph was for committing, in order that some 
middle ground might, if possible, be found. He could 
never agree to the clause as it stands. He would sooner 
risk the constitution. He dwelt on the dilemma to which 


the Convention was exposed. By agreeing to the clause, 
it would revolt the Quakers, the Methodists, and many 
others in the States having no slaves. On the other hand, 
two States might be lost to the union. Let us then, he 
said, try the chances of a commitment. 

On the question for committing the remaining part of 
sections 4 and 5 of article 7, — Connecticut, New Jersey, 
Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, 
Georgia, Aye, ? ; New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Delaware, 
No, 3 ; Massachusetts absent. 

Mr. Williamson stated the law of North Carolina on the 
subject, to wit, that it did not directly prohibit the impor- 
tation of slaves. It imposed a duty of five pounds on each 
slave imported from Africa ; ten pounds on each from else- 
where, and fifty pounds on each from a State licensing 
manumission. lie thought the Southern States could not 
be members of the union, if the clause should be rejected, 
and that it was wrong to force any thing down not abso- 
lutely necessary, and which any State must disagree to. 

Mr. King thought the subject should be considered in a 
political light only. If two States will not agree to the 
constitution, as stated on one side, he could affirm with 
equal belief, on the other, that great and equal opposition 
would be experienced from the other States. He remarked 
that the exemption of slaves from duty, whilst every other 
import was subject to it, was an inequality that could not 
fail to strike the commercial sagacity of the Northern and 
Middle States. 

Mr. Langdon was strenuous for giving the power to the 
general government. He could not, with a good conscience, 
leave it with the States, who could then go on with the 
traffic without being restrained by the opinions here given, 
that they will themselves oease to import slaves. 

Mr. Rutledge, from the committee to whom was referred 
the propositions of Mr. Madison and Mr. Pinckney on the 


18lh and 20lh, made a report embodying the general views 
of the propositions as committed, bal BtrikiBg out the fol- 
lowing propositions of Mr. Madison, 

11 To dispose of the unappropriated lands of the United 

"To institute temporary government! for now States 
arising therein." 

[Note. — If, as is claimed, the framers of the constitution 
intended to invest Congress with the power of government 
over territories, why was this proposition of Mr. Mndisou 
struck out which conferred that power in express terms ? 
It is difficult to explain this action upon any other hypo- 
thesis than that they intended no such power to be lodged in 
the federal government; for it cannot be supposed that the 
sages of that Convention were so fond of implication, as 
to strike from the frame of government, which they were 
preparing, eceprew words, for the sake of having powers 

August 23. The convention was engaged in the dis- 
cussion of the subject of the militia, treaty-making power, 

August 24. Gov. Livingston, from the committee of 
eleven to whom was referred the clause of the fourth section 
of the seventh article, relating to the importation of slaves, 
made the following report. 

" Strike out so much of the fourth section as was referred 
to the committee and insert : — % The migration or importa- 
tion of such persons as the several States now existing 
shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the 
legislatures prior to the year 1800, but a tax or duty may 
be imposed on such immigration or importation, not exceed- 
ing the average duties laid on imports.' " 

August 25. The above report was taken up. Gen. Pinck- 
ney moved to strike out the year 1800 as the year limiting 
the importing of slaves, and insert 1808. Mr. Madison op- 


posed it on the ground that so long a period would be more 
dishonorable than though nothing was said about it in the 

On the motion of Gen. Pinckney to extend the importation 
of slaves till 1808. ' 

New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, 
North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia voted Aye ; 
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia voted 
No. So it was agreed to. 

Some further amendments were proposed and rejected. 
The report as amended was then agreed to by the same 
vote as on Gen. Pinckney's amendment. 

August 27. The 27 th and 28th were occupied in dis- 
cussing the judicial branch of the government, and the 
subject of commerce. 

August 29. Mr. Butler moved to insert after Article 15, — 

" If any person bound to service or labor in any of the 
United States shall escape into another State, he or she 
shall not be discharged from such service or labor in con- 
sequence of any regulations subsisting in the State to which 
they escape, but shall be delivered up to the person justly 
claiming their service or labor;" which was agreed to unan- 
imously without debate. 

Mr. Morris, of Pennsylvania, moved the following : 

" The legislature shall have power to dispose of, and make 
all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or 
other property belonging to the United States ; and no- 
thing in this constitution contained shall be so construed as 
to prejudice any claims, either of the United States, or of 
any particular States." This section was agreed to, Mary- 
land alone dissenting. 

[Note — If, as is claimed, the above section was intended 
to give Congress the right of government over the people 
of the territories, how could it have passed so nearly unani- 
mous, and without debate, when the proposition of Mr. 


Madison, only seven days before, giving that power in ex- 
press language, was rejected 't The subject-matter before 
the Convention at the time was the properly of the United 
States, and only with reference to that subject was this sec- 
tion adopted.] 

August 31. From this date till the 1 2th of September the 
Convention was occupied in settling the details of the constitu- 
tion, in the way of amendments and modifications to the various 
articles. Very little debate occurred, — none that would come 
within the purpose of this book. On the latter day the commit- 
tee on revision reported the following draft of a constitution, 
which with some slight amendments, on t he 10th was agreed 
to by the unanimous vote of all the States. On the 17th the 
instrument, having been engrossed, was signed by the mem- 
bers, with two or three exceptions, and the Convention ad- 
journed sine die. 



We, the People of the United States, in order to form a 
more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic 
tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote 
the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty 
to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish 
this Constitution for the United States of America. 
Article 1. Section 1. All legislative powers herein 
granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, 
which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representa- 

Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be com- 
posed of members chosen every second year by the people 
of the several States, and the electors in each State shall 
have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most 
numerous branch of the State legislature. 

No person shall be a representative who shall not have 


attained to the age of twenty-five years, and been seven 
years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, 
when elected, be an inhabitant of that State in which he 
shall be chosen. 

Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned 
among the several States which may be included within 
this Union, according to their respective numbers, which 
shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free 
persons, including those bound to service for a term of 
years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all 
other persons. The actual enumeration shall be made 
within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of 
the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten 
years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The 
number of representatives shall not exceed one for every 
thirty thousand, but each State shall have at least one rep- 
resentative ; and until such enumeration shall be made, the 
State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three, 
Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence planta- 
tions one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey 
four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, 
Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and 
Georgia three. 

"When vacancies happen in the representation from any 
State, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of 
election to fill such vacancies. 

The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker 
and other officers ; and shall have the sole power of 

Section 3. The Senate of the United States shall be 
composed of two senators from each State, chosen by the 
legislature thereof, for six years; and each senator shall 
have one vote. 

Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence 
of the first election, they shall be divided as equally as may 


be into three classes. The scats of the senators of the first 
class shall he vacated at the expiration of the second year, 
of the second class at the expiration of the fourth year, 
and of the third class at the expiration of the sixth year, 
so that one-third may be chosen every second year; and if 
vacancies happen by resignation, or otherwise, during the 
recess of the legislature of any State, the executive thereof 
may make temporary appointments until the next meeting 
of the legislature, which shall then lill Mich vacancies. 

No person shall be a senator who shall not have attained 
to the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of 
the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an 
inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen. 

The Vice-President of the United States shall be Presi- 
dent of the Senate, but shall have no vote* unless they be 
equally divided. 

The Senate shall choose their other officers, and also a 
president pro tempore, in the absence of the Yice-President, 
or when he shall exercise the office of President of the 
United States. 

The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeach- 
ments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on 
oath or affirmation. -When the President of the United 
States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside : and no per- 
son shall be convicted without the concurrence of two- 
thirds of the members present. 

Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend fur- 
ther than to removal from office, and disqualification to 
hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the 
United States : but the party convicted shall nevertheless 
be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and 
punishment, according to law. 

Section 4. The times, places, and manner of holding 
elections for senators and representatives, shall be pre- 
scribed in each State by the legislature thereof, but tliw 


Congress may at any time, by law, make or alter such regu- 
lations, except as to the places of choosing senators. 

Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and 
such meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, 
unless they shall, by law, appoint a different day. 

Section 5. Each House shall be the judge of the election 
returns and qualifications of its own members, and a ma- 
jority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business, 
but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and 
may be authorized to compel the attendance of t » • absent 
members, in such manner, and under such penalties, as each 
House may provide. 

Each House may determine the rules of its proceeding?, 
punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the 
concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member. 

Each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and 
from time to time publish the same, excepting such paas 
as may in their judgment require secrecy ; and the yeas and 
nays of the members of either House on any question, shall, 
at the desire of one-fifth of those present, be entered on the 

Neither House, during the session of Congress, shall, 
without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than 
uhree days, nor to any other place than that in which the 
two Houses shall be sitting. 

Section 6. The senators and representatives shall receive 
a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, 
and paid out of the treasury of the United States. They 
shall in all cases, except treason, felony, and breach of the 
peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at 
the session of their respective Houses, and in going to, and 
returning from the same ; and for any speech or debate in 
either Woizt, they shall not be questioned in any other 

No fe^nator or representative shal 1 during lha lime for 


which he was elected, be appointed to any eivil office under 
the authority of the United States, which shall have been 
created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been in- 
creased, during such time; and no person holding any 
office under the United States, shall be a member of either 
House, during his continuance in office. 

Section T. All bills for raising revenue shall originate 
in the House of Representatives ; but the Senate may pro- 
pose or concur with amendments as on other bills. 

Every bill which shall have passed the House of Repre- 
sentatives and the Senate shall, before it become a law, bo 
presented to the President of the United States ; if he ap- 
prove, he shall sign it, but if not, he shall return it, with his 
objections, to that House in which it shall have originated, 
who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and 
proceed to reconsider it. If, after such reconsideration, two- 
thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be 
sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by 
which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by 
two-thirds of that House, it shall become a law. But in all 
such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by 
yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and 
against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House 
respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the Pre- 
sident within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have 
been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like man- 
ner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their ad- 
journment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a 

Every order, resolution, or vote, to which the concurrence 
of the Senate and House of Representatives may be neces- 
sary, (except on a question of adjournment,) shall be pre- 
sented to the President of the United States; and before 
the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or being 
disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two-thirds of the 


Senate and House of Representatives, according to the rules 
and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill. 
Section 8. The Congress shall have power — 
To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to 
pay the debts and provide for the common defense and 
general welfare of the United States ; but all duties, imposts, 
and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States ; 
To borrow money on the credit of the United States ; 
To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among 
the several States, and with the Indian tribes ; 

To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uni- 
form laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the 
United States ; 

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign 
coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures ; 

To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the se- 
curities and current coin of the United States ; 
To establish post-offices and post roads ; 
To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by 
securing for limited times to authors and inventors the ex- 
clusive right to their respective writings and discoveries ; 
To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court ; 
To define and punish piracies and felonies committed 
on the high seas, and offences against the law of nations ; 

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, 
and make rules concerning captures on land and water ; 

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of 
money to that use shall be for a longer term than two 
years ; 

To provide and maintain a navy ; 

To make rules for the government and regulation of the 
land and naval forces ; 

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute 
the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel in- 
vasions : 


To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, 
the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be 
employed in the service of the United States, reserving to 
the States respectively, the appointment of the officers, and 
the authority of training the militia according to the discip- 
line prescribed by Congress ; 

To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, 
over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, 
by cession of particular States and the acceptance of Con- 
gress, become the seat of the government of the United 
States, and to exercise like authority over all places pur- 
chased by the consent of the legislature of the State in which 
the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, 
arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings ; — and 

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for 
carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other 
powers vested by this Constitution in the government of 
the United States, or in any department or officer thereof. 

Section 9. The migration or importation of such per- 
sons as any of the States now existing shall think proper 
to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to 
the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax 
or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceed- 
ing ten dollars for each person. 

The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be 
suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the 
public safety may require it. 

No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed. 

No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, un- 
less in proportion to the census or enumeration herein be- 
fore directed to be taken. 

No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from 
any State. 

No preference shall be given by any regulation of com- 
merce or revenue to the ports of one State over those of 


another: nor shall vessels bound to, or from, one State, be 
obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties in another. 

No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in con- 
sequence of appropriations made by law ; and a regular 
statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of 
all public money shall be published from time to time. 

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United 
States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust 
under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, 
accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any 
kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign State. 

Section 10. No State shall enter into any treaty, alli- 
ance, or confederation ; grant letters of marque and re- 
prisal ; coin money ; emit bills of credit ; make any thing 
but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts ; 
pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law im- 
pairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of 

No State shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay 
any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what 
may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection 
laws : and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid 
by any State on imports or exports, shall be for the use 
of the treasury of the United States ; and all such laws 
shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress. 

No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any 
duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of 
peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another 
State, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless 
actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not 
admit of delay. 

Article 2. Section 1. The executive power shall be 
vested in a President of the United States of America. 
He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, 


together with the Vice-President, chosen for the same term, 
be elected as follows : 

Each State shall appoint, in such manner as the legisla- 
ture thereof may direct, a number of Electors, equal to the 
whole number of senators and representatives to which the 
State may be entitled in the Congress ; but no senator 
or representative, or person holding an office of trust or 
profit under the United States, shall be appointed an 

The Congress may determine the time of choosing the 
Electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes ; 
which day shall be the same throughout the United States. 

No person except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of 
the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Con- 
stitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither 
shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not 
have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been four- 
teen years a resident within the United States. 

In case of the removal of the President from office, or of 
his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers 
and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the 
"Vice-President, and Congress may by law provide for the 
case of removal, death, resignation, or inability, both of the 
President and Yice-President, declaring what officer shall 
then act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly, 
until the disability be removed, or a President shall be 

The President shall, at stated times, receive for his ser- 
vices a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor 
diminished during the period for which he shall have been 
elected, and he shall not receive within that period any other 
emolument from the United States or any of them. 

Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall 
take the following oath or affirmation : 

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully 


execute the office of President of the United States, and 
will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend 
the Constitution of the United States." 

Section 2. The President shall be commander-in-chief 
of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia 
of the several States, when called into the actual service of 
the United States ; he may require the opinion, in writing, 
of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, 
upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective 
offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and 
pardons for offenses against the United States, except in 
cases of impeachment. 

He shall have power, by and with the advice and con- 
sent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of 
the senators present concur ; and he shall nominate, and by 
and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint 
ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of 
the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United 
States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise pro- 
vided for, and which shall be established by law : but the 
Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior 
officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the 
courts of law, or in the heads of departments. 

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies 
that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by grant- 
ing commissions which shall expire at the end of their next 

Section 3. He shall, from time to time, give to the 
Congress information of the state of the Union, and recom- 
mend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge 
necessary and expedient ; he may, on extraordinary occa- 
sions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case 
of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of 
adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall 
think proper j he shall receive ambassadors and other public 


ministers ; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully 
executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United 

Section 4. The President, Yice President, and all civil 
officers of the United States, shall be removed from office 
on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, or 
other high crimes and misdemeanors. 

Article 3. Section 1. The judicial power of the 
United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and 
in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to 
time ordain and establish. The judges both of the supreme 
and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good be- 
havior, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services 
a compensation, which shall not be diminished (luring their 
continuance in office. 

Section 2. The judicial power shall extend to all cases, 
in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws 
of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be 
made, under their authority ; — to all cases affecting ambas- 
sadors, other public ministers and consuls ; — to all cases of 
admiralty and maritime jurisdiction ; — to controversies to 
which the United States shall be a party ; — to controversies 
between two or more States ; — between a State and citizens 
of another State; — between citizens of different States; — 
between citizens of the same State claiming lands under 
grants of different States, and between a State or the citi- 
zens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects. 

In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers 
and consuls, and those in which a State shall be party, the 
Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the 
other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have 
appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such 
exceptions and under such regulations as the Congress 
shall make. 

The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, 


ghall be by jury f and such trial shall be held in the State 
where the said crimes shall have been committed ; but when 
not committed within any State, the trial shall be at such 
place or places as the Congress may by law have directed. 

Section 3. Treason against the United States shall con- 
sist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to 
their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person 
shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two 
witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open 

The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment 
of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption 
of blood or forfeiture, except during the life of the person 

Article 4. Section 1. Full faith and credit shall be 
given in each State to the public acts, records, and judicial 
proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may, 
by general laws, prescribe the manner in which such acts, 
records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect 

Section 2. The citizens of each State shall be entitled 
to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several 

A person charged in any State with treason, felony, or 
other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in 
another State, shall, on demand of the executive authority 
of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be re- 
moved to the State having jurisdiction of the crime. 

No person held to service or labor in one State, under 
the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence 
of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such 
service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the 
party to whom such service or labor may be due. 

Section 3. New States may be admitted by the Con- 
gress into this Union j but no new State shall be formed or 


erected within the jurisdiction of any other State ; nor any 
State be formed by the junction of two or more States, or 
parts of States, without the consent of the legislatures of 
the States concerned as well as of the Congress. 

The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make 
all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or 
other property belonging to the United States ; and nothing 
in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice 
any claims of the United States, or of any particular State. 

Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every 
State in this Union a republican form of government, and 
shall protect each of them against invasion, and on applica- 
tion of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legis- 
lature cannot be convened) against domestic violence. 

Article 5. The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both 
Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments 
to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legisla- 
tures of two-thirds of the several States, shall call a con- 
vention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, 
shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this 
Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three- 
fourths of the several States, or by conventions in three- 
fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification 
may be proposed by the Congress ; Provided that no 
amendment which may be made prior to the year one 
thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner 
affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of 
the first article ; and that no State, without its consent, 
shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate. 

Article 6. All debts contracted and engagements 
entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall 
be as valid against the United States under this Constitu- 
tion, as under the Confederation. 

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States 
which shall be made in pursuance thereof ; and all treaties 


made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the 
United States, shall be the supreme law of the land ; and 
the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything 
in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary 

The senators and representatives before mentioned, and 
the members of the several State legislatures, and all 
executive and judicial officers, both of the United States 
and of the several States, shall be be bound by oath or 
affirmation, to support this Constitution ; but no religious 
Test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office 
or public trust under the United States. 

Article f. The ratification of the Conventions of nine 
States, shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Con- 
stitution between the States so ratifying the same. 

Done in Convention by the unanimous consent of the 
States present the seventeenth day of September in the 
year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty 
seven and of the Independence of the United States of 
America the twelfth. In witness whereof, We have here- 
unto subscribed our names. 

President, and Deputy from Virginia. 

The Constitution was ratified by the Conventions of the 
several States, as follows, viz. : Delaware, 1th December, 
1181; Pennsylvania, 12th December, 1181; New Jersey, 
18th December, 1181; Georgia, 2d January, 1188 ; Con- 
necticut, 9th January, 1188; Massachusetts, 6th February, 
1188; Maryland, 28th April, 1188; South Carolina, 23d 
May, 1188; New Hampshire, 21st June, 1188; Virginia, 
26th June, 1188; New York, 26th July, 1188; North 
Carolina, 21st November, 1189 ; Rhode Island, 29th May, 



Adopted by the Convention, and addressed to Co7igress t 
with a copy of the Constitution. 

" We have now the honor to submit to the consideration 
of the United States in Congress assembled, that Constitu- 
tion which has appeared to us the most advisable. 

" The friends of our country have long seen and desired, 
that the power of making war, peace, and treaties ; that of 
levying money and regulating commerce ; and the corres- 
pondent executive and judicial authorities, should be fully 
and effectually vested in the general government of the 
Union. But the impropriety of delegating such extensive 
trust to one body of men is evident. Thence results the 
necessity of a different organzation. It is obviously im- 
practicable in the federal government of these States, to 
secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and 
yet provide for the interest and safety of all. Individuals 
entering into society must give up a share of liberty to 
preserve the rest. 

The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on 
situation and circumstances, as on the object to be ob- 
tained. It is at all times difficult to draw with precision 
the line between those rights which must be surrendered 
and those which may be reserved. And on the present 
occasion this difficulty was increased by a difference among 
the several States as to their situation, extent, habits, and 
particular interests. 

In all our deliberations on this subject, we kept steadily 
in our view that which appeared to us the greatest interest 
of every true American, — the consolidation of our Union, 
in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps 
our national existence. This important consideration, se- 
riously and deeply impressed on our minds, led each State 
in the Convention to be less rigid in points of inferior mag- 


nitude than might have been otherwise expected. And 
thus the Constitution which we now present is the result of 
a spirit of amity, and of that mutual deference and con- 
cession, which the peculiarity of our political situation ren- 
dered indispensable. 

" That it will meet the full and entire approbation of 
every State is not, perhaps, to be expected. But each will 
doubtless consider that, had her interest alone been con- 
sulted, the consequence might have been particularly disa- 
greeable and injurious to others. That it is liable to as 
few exceptions as could reasonably have been expected, we 
hope and believe ; that it will promote the lasting welfare 
of that country so dear to us all, and secure our freedom 
and happiness, is our most ardent wish." 


In addition to, and amendment of, the Constitution of the 
United States of America, proposed by Congress, and 
ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursu- 
ant to the fifth article of the original Constitution. 

Article 1. Congress shall make no law respecting an 
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise 
thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the 
press ; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, 
and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. 

Article 2. A well regulated militia being necessary to 
the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep 
and bear arms, shall not be infringed. 

Article 3. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quar- 
tered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor 
in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. 

Article 4. The right of the people to be secure in 
their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreason- 
able searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no 


warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported 
by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the 
place to be searched, and the persons or things to be 

Article 5. No person shall be held to answer for a 
capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a present- 
ment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising 
in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual 
service in time of war or public danger ; nor shall any per- 
son be subject for the same offense to be twice put in 
jeopardy of life or limb ; nor shall be compelled in any 
criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be de- 
prived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of 
law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, 
without just compensation. 

Article 6. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused 
shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an im- 
partial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall 
have been been committed, which district shall have been 
previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the 
nature and cause of the accusation ; to be confronted with 
the witnesses against him ; to have compulsory process for 
obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance 
of counsel for his defense. 

Article 7. In suits at common law, where the value in 
controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial 
by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall 
be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, 
than according to the rules of the common law. 

Article 8. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor 
excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments 

Article 9. The enumeration in the Constitution, of 
certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage 
others retained by the people. 


Article 10. The powers not delegated to the United 
States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the 
States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the 

Article 11. The judicial power of the United States 
shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or 
equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United 
States by citizens of another State, or by citizens or sub- 
jects of any foreign State. 

Article 12. The Electors shall meet in their respective 
States, and vote by ballot for President and Yice-President, 
one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the 
same State with themselves ; they shall name in their bal- 
lots the person voted for as President, and in distinct bal- 
lots the person voted for as Yice-President, and they shall 
make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and 
of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the num- 
ber of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, 
and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the 
United States, directed to the President of the Senate ; — 
the President of the Senate shall, in presence of the Senate 
and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and 
the votes shall then be counted ; — The person having the 
greatest number of votes for President, shall be the Presi- 
dent, if such number be a majority of the whole number of 
Electors appointed ; and if no person have such majority, 
then from the persons having the highest numbers not ex- 
ceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, 
the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by 
ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, -the 
votes shall be taken by States, the representation from each 
State having one vote ; a quorum for this purpose shall 
consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the 
States, and a majority of all the States shall be necessary to 
a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not 


chooso a President whenever the right of choice shall de- 
volve upon them, before the fourth day of March next fol- 
lowing, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as 
in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of 
the President. The person having the greatest number of 
votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if 
such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors 
appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the 
two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose 
the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist 
of two-thirds of the whole Dumber of senators, and a 
majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a 
choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the 
office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President 
of the United States. 

The first ten of the preceding amendments were proposed 
at the first session of the first Congress of the United 
States, 25th September, 1789, and were finally ratified by 
the constitutional number of States, on the 15th day of 
December, 1791. 

The eleventh amendment was proposed at the first session 
of the third Congress, 5th March, 1794, and was declared 
in a message from the President of the United States to 
both houses of Congress, dated 8th January, 1798, to have 
been adopted by the constitutional number of States. 

The twelfth amendment was proposed at the first session 
of the eighth Congress, 12th December, 1803, and was 
adopted by the Constitutional number of States in 1804, 
according to a public notice thereof by the Secretary of 
State, dated 25th September, of the same year. 




The following chapter contains all the debates on the 
subject of slavery, in the Conventions of the several States 
to ratify the Constitution, that have been preserved Of 
the Conventions of Vermont, Delaware, Maryland, and 
Georgia, none were reported, or, if reported, have never been 
published. In Pennsylvania, the only speeches preserved 
are those of James Wilson, a member of the Federal Con- 
vention, and Thomas McKean. The only allusion in these 
speeches to the question of slavery was by Mr. Wilson 
expressing his gratification that, after twenty years Con- 
gress would have power to prohibit the slave trade, and 
that thus slavery would finally die out of itself. No debates 
were preserved of the New Hampshire Convention, save a 
mere fragment of a speech by Joshua Atherton, repro- 
bating the slave trade. It does not appear, however, 
whether he opposed the Constitution on that ground or 
supported it because it provided a way for its final extinc- 
tion. We therefore do not copy it. 

In some States the debates are voluminous, and yet very 
little, comparatively, on the subject of slavery. We have 
aimed to give all that was said, pro and con, leaving the 
reader to form his own opinions. 


February 4, 1788. Rev. Mr. Backus said-Mr. Presi- 
dent I have said very little in this honorable Convention ; 
but I now beg leave to offer a few thoughts upon some 



points in the Constitution proposed to us, and I shall begin 
with the exclusion of the religious test. Many appear to 
be much concerned about it; but nothing is more evident, 
both in reason and the Holy Scriptures, than that religion 
is ever a matter between God and individuals ; and there- 
fore no man or men can impose any religious test, without 
invading the essential prerogatives of our Lord Jesus 
Christ. Ministers first assumed this power under the Chris- 
tian name ; and then Constantino approved of the practice, 
when he adopted the profession of Christianity, as an 
engine of State policy. And let the history of all nations 
be searched from that day to this, and it will appear that 
the imposing of religious tests hath been the greatest en- 
gine of tyranny in the world. And I rejoice to see so 
many gentlemen who are now giving in their rights of con- 
science in this great and important matter. Some serious 
minds discover a concern lest, if all religious tests should 
be excluded, the Congress would hereafter establish Popery, 
or some other tyrannical way of worship. But it is most 
certain that no such way of worship can be established 
without any religious test. 

Much, sir, hath been said about the importation of slaves 
into this country. 

I believe that, according to my capacity, no man abhors 
that wicked practice more than I do ; I would gladly make 
use of all lawful means toward the abolition of slavery in all 
parts of the land. 

But let us consider where we are and what we are doing. 
In the Articles of Confederation, no provision was made to 
hinder the importation of slaves into any of these States ; 
but a door is now open hereafter to do it, and each State is 
at liberty now to abolish slavery as soon as they please. 
And let us remember our former connection with Great 
Britain, from whom many in our own land think we ought 
not to have revolted. How did they carry on the slave 


trade ? I know that the Bishop of Gloucester, in an an- 
nual sermon in London, in February, 1*776, endeavored to 
justify their tyrannical claims of power over us by casting 
the reproach of the slave trade upon the Americans. 

But at the close of the war, the Bishop of Chester, in an 
annual sermon, in February, 1783, ingenuously owned that 
their nation is the most deeply involved in the guilt of that 
trade of any nation in the world ; and, also, that they have 
treated their slaves in the West Indies worse than the 
French or Spaniards have done theirs. 

Thus slavery grows more odious through the world ; and 
as an honorable gentleman said, some days ago, " Though 
we cannot say that slavery is struck with an apoplexy, yet 
we may hope it will die with consumption." 

Mr. Dawes said he was sorry to hear so many objec- 
tions raised against the paragraph under consideration. He 
thought them wholly unfounded; that the black inhabitants 
of the Southern States must be considered either a& slaves, 
and as so much property, or in the character of so many 
freemen ; if the former, why should they not be wholly re- 
presented ? Our own State laws and Constitutiona would 
lead us to consider these blacks as freemen, and rso in- 
deed, would our own ideas of natural justice. If, then, they 
are freemen, they might form an equal basis for represen- 
tation as though they were all white inhabitants. 

In either view, therefore, he could not see that the 
Northern States would suffer, but directly to the contrary. 
He thought, however, that gentlemen would do well to con- 
nect the passage in dispute with another article in the 
Constitution, that permits Congress, in the year 1808, 
wholly to prohibit the importation of slaves, and in the 
mean time to impose a duty of ten dollars a head on such 
blacks as should be imported before that period. Besides, 
by the new Constitution, every particular State is left to its 
own option totally to prohibit the introduction of slaves 


into its own territories. What could the Convention do 
more? The members of the Southern States, like ourselves, 
have their prejudices. It would not do to abolish slavery, 
by an Act of Congress, in a moment, and so destroy what 
our Southern brethren conekler n> property. 

But we may say, that although slavery is not smitten by 
apoplexy, yet it lias received a mortal wound, and will die of 

Gen. Heath said, the paragraph respecting the migra- 
tion or importation of such persons as any of the States now 
existing shall think proper to admit, Ac., is one of those 
considered during my absence, and I have heard DO thing 
on the subject, save what has been mentioned this morn- 
ing ; but I think the gentlemen who have spoken have car- 
ried the matter rather too far on both sides. 

I apprehend that it is not in our power to do any thing 
for or against those who are iu slavery in the Southern 

No gentleman within these walls detests every idea of 

slavery more than I do : it is generally detested by the 

people of this commonwealth ; and I ardently hope that the 

time will soon come when our brethren in the Southern 

States will view it as we do, and put a stop to it ; but to 

this we have no right to compel them. Two questions 

naturally arise. If we ratify the Constitution, shall we do 

anything by our act to hold the blacks in slavery ? Or 

shall we become partakers of other men's sins ? I think, 

neither of them. Each State is sovereign and independent 

to a certain degree, and the States have a right, aud they 

will regulate their own internal affairs as to themselves 

appears proper ; and shall we refuse to eat, or to drink, or 

to be united, with those who do not think, or act, just as we 

do ? Surely not. We are not, in this case, partakers of 

other men's sins ; for iu nothing do we voluntarily encourage 

the slavery of our fellow man. 



Mr. President: After a long and painful investigation of 
the Federal Constitution, by paragraphs, this honorable 
Convention is drawing nigh to the ultimate question — a 
question as momentous as ever invited the attention of man. 

We are soon to decide on a system of government, 
digested, not for the people of the commonwealth of Massa- 
chusetts only — not for the present people of the United 
States only — but, in addition to these, for all those States 
which may hereafter rise into existence within the jurisdic- 
tion of the United States, and for millions of people yet 
unborn ; a system of government, not for a nation of slaves, 
but for a people as free and virtuous as any on earth ; not 
for a conquered nation, subdued to our will, but for a people 
who have fought, who have bled, and who have conquered; 
who under the smiles of Heaven, have established their inde- 
pendence and sovereignty, and have taken equal rank among 
the nations of the earth. 

In short, sir, it is a system of government for ourselves 
and for our children, for all that is near and dear to us in 
life ; and on the decision of the question is suspended our 
political prosperity or infelicity, perhaps our existence as a 
nation. What can be more solemn ? What can be more 
interesting ? Everything depends on our union. I know 
that some have supposed, that although the union should be 
broken, particular States may retain their importance ; but 
this cannot be. 

The strongest nerved State, even the right arm, if sepa- 
rated from the body, must wither. If the great union be 
broken, our country, as a nation, perishes ; and if our 
country so perishes, it will be as impossible to save a par- 
ticular State as to preserve one of the fingers of a mortified 

By one of the paragraphs of the system, it is declared 
that the ratifications of the Conventions of nine States shall 
be sufficient for the establishment of the Constitution between 


the States so ratifying the same. But, sir, how happy 
will it be if, not only nine, but even all the States should 
ratify it. 

It will be a happy circumstance if only a small majority 
of this Convention should ratify the federal system ; but 
how much more happy if we could be unanimous 1 And if 
there are any means whereby they may be united, every 
exertion should be made to effect it. I presume, sir, that 
there is not a single gentleman within these walls who does 
not wish for a federal government — for an efficient federal 
government; and that this government should be possessed 
of every power necessary to enable it to shed on the people 
the benign influence of a good government. 

The third paragraph of the 2d section being read, Mr. 
King, a member of the Federal Convention, rose to explain 
it. There has, says he, been much misconception of this 
section. It is a principle of this Constitution that represen- 
tation and taxation should go hand in hand. This para- 
graph states that to the number of free persons, including 
those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding In- 
dians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons shall be 
added. These persons are the slaves. By this rule are 
representation and taxation to be apportioned ; and it was 
adopted, because it was the language of all America. Ac- 
cording to the Confederation, ratified in 1781, the sums 
for the general welfare and defense should be apportioned 
according to the surveyed lands, and improvements thereon, 
in the several States ; but that it hath never been in the 
power of Congress to follow that rule, the returns from 
the several States being so very imperfect. 



June 20, 1188. *Mr. Hamilton said : In order that the 
committee may understand clearly the principle on which 
the general Convention acted, I think it necessary to explain 
some preliminary circumstances. Sir, the natural situation 
of this country seems to divide its interests into different 
classes. There are navigating and non-navigating States. 
The Northern are properly navigating States ; the Southern 
appear to possess neither the means nor the spirit of navi- 
gation. This difference or situation naturally produces a 
dissimilarity of interests and views respecting foreign com- 
merce. It was the interest of the Northern States that there 
should be no restraints on their navigation, and that they 
should have full power, by a majority in Congress, to make 
commercial regulations in favor of their own, and in restraint 
of the navigation of foreigners. The Southern States wished 
to impose a restraint on the Northern, by requiring that 
two-thirds in Congress should be requisite to pass an act 
in regulation of commerce. They were apprehensive that 
the restraints of a navigation law would discourage foreign- 
ers, and, by obliging them to employ the shipping of the 
Northern States, would probably enhance their freight. 
This being the case, they insisted strenuously on having 
this provision engrafted in the Constitution ; and the North- 
ern States were as anxious in opposing it. On the other 
hand, the small States, seeing themselves embraced by the 
Confederation upon equal terms, wished to retain the ad- 
vantages which they already possessed. The large States, 
on the contrary, thought it improper that Rhode Island and 
Delaware should enjoy an equal suffrage with themselves. 

* Mr. Hamilton was the only delegate in the New York Con- 
vention that discussed, or expressed an opinion on t£* subject 
of slavery. 


From these sources a delicate and difficult contest arose. 
It became necessary, therefore, to compromise, or the Con- 
vention must have dissolved without effecting anything. 
Would it have been wise and prudent in that body, in thin 

critical situation, to have deserted their country? No I 
Every man who hears me, every wi>e man in the United 
Slates would have condemned them. 

The Convention were obliged to appoint a committee for 
accommodation. In this committee the arrangement If a 8 
formed as it now stands, and their report was accepted. It 
was a delicate point, and it was necessary that all parties 
should be indulged. 

Gentlemen will see that, if there had been no unanimity, 
nothing could have been done; for the Convention had no 
power to establish, but only to recommend, a government. 
Any other system would have been impracticable. 

Let a convention be called to-morrow. Let them meet 
twenty times, — nay, twenty thousand times ; they will have 
the same difficulties to encounter, the same clashing inte- 
rests to reconcile. 

But, dismissing these reflections, let us consider how far 
the arrangement is in itself entitled to the approbation of 
this body. We will examine it upon its own merits. 

The first thing objected to is that clause which allows a 
representation for three-fifths of the negroes. Much has 
been said of the impropriety. of representing men who have 
no will of their own. Whether this be reasoning or decla- 
mation I will not presume to say. It is the unfortunate 
situation of the Southern States to have a great part of their 
population, as well as property, in blacks. The regulation 
complained of was one result of the spirit of accommodation 
which governed the Convention, and without this indulgence 
no union could possibly have been formed. 

But, sir, considering some peculiar advantages which we 


derive from them, it is entirely just that they should be 

The Southern States possess certain staples — tobacco, 
rice, indigo, &c. — which must be capital objects in treaties 
of commerce with foreign nations ; and the advantages 
which they necessarily procure in those treaties will be felt 
throughout all the States. But the justice of this plan will 
appear in another view. The best writers on government 
have held that representation should be compounded of per- 
sons and property. This rule has been adopted, as far as 
it could be, in the Constitution of New York. It will, 
however, by no means be admitted that the slaves are con- 
sidered altogether as property. They are men, though 
degraded to the condition of slavery. 

They are persons known to the municipal laws of the 
States which they inhabit, as well as to the laws of nature. 
But representation and taxation go together, and one uni- 
form rule ought to apply to both. 

Would it be just to compute these slaves in the assess- 
ment of taxes, and discard them from the estimate in the 
apportionment of representatives ? 

Would it be just to impose a singular burden, without 
conferring some adequate advantage ? 

Another circumstance ought to be considered. The rule 
we have been speaking of is a general rule, and applies to 
all the States. Now, you have a great number of people in 
your State which are not represented at all, and have no 
voice in your government. 

These will be included in the enumeration — not two-fifths, 
nor three-fifths, but the whole. 

This proves that the advantages of the plan are not con- 
fined to the Southern States, but extend to other parts of 
the Union. 



January 4, IT 88. — Oliver Ellsworth. Mr. President : It 
is observable that there is no preface to the proposed Con- 
stitution ; but it evidently pre-supposes two things ; one is, 
the necessity of a federal government, the other is the ineffi- 
ciency of the old Articles of Confederation. 

A union is necessary for the purposes of national defense. 
United we are strong, divided we are weak. It is easy for hos- 
tile nations to sweep off a number of separate states, one after 
another. Witness the states in the neighborhood of ancient 
Home. They were successively subdued by that ambitious 
city, which they might have conquered with the utmost 
ease if they had been united. 

Witness the Canaanitish nations, whose divided situation 
rendered them an easy prey. Witness England, which, 
when divided into separate states, was twice conquered by 
an inferior force. Thus it always happens to small states, 
and to great ones if divided. Or if, to avoid this, they 
connect themselves with some powerful state, their situation 
is not much better. This shows us the necessity of combin- 
ing our whole force, and, as to national purposes, becoming 
one state. 

A union, sir, is likewise necessary, considered with rela- 
tion to economy. 

They must provide for their defense. 

The expense of it, which would be moderate for a large 
kingdom, would be intolerable to a petty state. The Dutch 
are wealthy, but they are one of the smallest of the Euro- 
pean nations, and their taxes are higher than in any other 
country of Europe. Their taxes amount to forty shillings 
per head, when those of England do not exceed half that 

We must unite in order to preserve peace among our- 


selves. If we be divided, what is to prevent wars from 
breaking out among the States ? States, as well as indi- 
viduals, are subject to ambition, to avarice, to those jarring 
passions which disturb the peace of society. What is to 
check these ? If there be a parental hand over the whole, 
this, and nothing else, can restrain the unruly conduct of the 

Union is necessary to preserve commutative justice be- 
tween the States. 

If divided what is to prevent the large States from 
oppressing the small ? What is to defeud us from the am- 
bition and rapacity of New York, when she has spread over 
that vast territory which she claims and holds ? Do we not 
already see in her the seeds of an overbearing ambition ? 
On our other side there is a large and powerful State. 
Have we not already begun to be tributaries ? If we do 
not improve the present critical time — if we do not unite — 
shall we not be like Issachar of old, a strong ass crouching 
down between two burdens. New Jersey and Delaware 
have seen this, and have adopted the Constitution unani- 

A more energetic system is necessary. 

The present is merely advisory. It has no coercive 
power. Without this, government is ineffectual, or rather 
is no government at all. But it is said, " Such a power is 
not necessary. States will not do wrong. They need only 
to be told their duty and they will do it." I ask, sir, what 
warrant is there for this assertion ? Do not States do 
wrong ? Whence come wars ? One of two hostile nations 
must be in the wrong. 

But it is said, " Among sister States this can never be 
presumed." But do we not know that when friends become 
enemies, their enmity is the most virulent ? 

The seventeen provinces of the Netherlands were once 
confederated : they fought under the same banner. Ant- 


werp, bard pressed by Fbilip, applied to tbe otber states 
for relief. Holland, a rival in trade, opposed and prevented 
tbe needy suecors. 

Antwerp was made a sacrifice. I wisb I conld say there 
were no seeds of similar injustice springing up among us. 
Is there not in one of our States injustice too barefaced for 
Eastern despotism ? That State is small. It does little 
hurt to any but itself. 

But it has a spirit which would make a Tophet of the 
universe. But some will say, " We formerly did well with- 
out any union." 

I answer, our situation is materially changed. While 
Great Britain held her authority, she awed us. She ap- 
pointed governors and councils for the American prorioc 
She had a negative upon our laws. But now, our circum- 
stances are so altered, that there is no arguing what we 
shall be, from what we have been.* 


June 2, H8S. Mr. George Nicholas. Mr. Chairman : I 
feel apprehensions lest the subject of our debates should be 
misunderstood. Every one wishes to know the true meaning 
of the system ; but I fear those who hear us will think we 
are captiously quibbling on words. We have been told, in 
the course of this business, that the government will operate 
like a screiv. Give me leave to say that the exertions of 
the opposition are like that instrument. They catch at 
every thing, and take it into their vortex. 

* The report of the debates in the Connecticut Convention i3 
very meagre, occupying but a few pages. In none of the 
speeches reported is the slavery question debated at all. We 
copy the foregoing from Mr. Ellsworth, as containing healthy 
Union sentiments, peculiarly applicable to a large class of 
people at the present time. 


The worthy member says that this government is de- 
fective, because it comes from the people. 

Its greatest recommendation with me, is putting the 
power in the hands of the people. 

He disapproves of it because it does not say in what par- 
ticular instances the militia shall be called out to execute 
the laws. 

This is a power of the Constitution, and particular in- 
stances must be defined by the legislature. But, says the 
worthy member, those laws which have been read are argu- 
ments against the Constitution, because they show that the 
States are now in possession of the power, and competent 
to its execution. 

Would you leave this power in the States, and by that 
means deprive the general government of a power which 
will be necessary for its existence ? If the State govern- 
ments find this power necessary, -ought not the general 
government to have a similar power ? Bat, sir, there is no 
State check in this business. The gentleman near me has 
shown that there is a very important check. 

Another worthy member says there is no power in the 
States to quell an insurrection of slaves. Have they it 
now? If they have, does the Constitution take it away? 
If it does, it must be one of the three clauses which have 
been mentioned by the worthy member. The first clause 
gives the general government power to call them out when 
necessary. Does this take it away from the States ? No. 
But it gives an additional security ; for, beside the power 
in the State governments to use their own militia, it will be 
the duty of the general government to aid them with the 
strength of the Union when called for. 

No part of this Constitution can show that this power is 
takeu away. 

But an argument is drawn from that clause which says 
" that no State shall engage in war, unless actually invaded, 


or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay." 
What does this prohibition amount to ? It must be a war 
with a foreign enemy that the States arc prohibited from 
making; for the exception to the restriction proves it. 
The restriction includes only offensive hostility, as they are 
at liberty to engage in war when invaded, or in imminent 
danger. They are, therefore, not restrained from quelling 
domestic insurrections, which arc totally different from 
making war with a foreign power. But the great thing to 
be dreaded is that, during an insurrection, the militia will 
be called out from the State. 

This is his kind of argument, Is it possible that, at 
such a time, the general government would order the militia 
to be called! It is a groundless objection to work on 
gentlemen's apprehensions within these walls. As to 
the 4th article, it was introduced wholly for the particular 
aid of the States. A republican form of government is 
guaranteed, and protection is secured against invasion 
and domestic violence on application. Is not this a guard 
as strong as possible ? Does it not exclude the unneces- 
sary interference of Congress in business of this sort. 

The gentlemen over the way cannot tell who will be the 
militia at a future day, and enumerates dangers of select 
militia. Let me attend to the nature of gentlemen's objec- 
tions. One objects because there will be a select militia ; 
another objects because there will be no select militia ; and 
yet both oppose it on these contradictory principles. 

If you deny the general government the power of call- 
ing out the militia, there must be a recurrence to a standing 

If you are really jealous of your liberties confide in 

Mr. George Mason. Mr. Chairman : This is a fatal sec- 
tion, which has created more dangers than any other. The 
first clause allows the importation of slaves for twenty years. 


Under the royal government, this evil was looked upon as 
a great oppression, and many attempts were made to pre- 
vent it; but the interest of the African merchants pre- 
vented its prohibition. No sooner did the Revolution take 
place than it was thought of. It was one of the great 
causes of our separation from Great Britain. Its exclu- 
sion has been a principal object of this State, and most of 
the States of the Union. 

The augmentation of slaves weakens the States ; and 
such a trade is diabolical in itself, and disgraceful to man- 
kind ; yet, by this Constitution, it is continued for twenty 
years. As much as I value a union of all the States, I 
would not admit the Southern States into the Union unless 
they agree to the discontinuance of this disgraceful trade, 
because it would bring weakness, and not strength, to the 

And, though this infamous traffic be continued, we have 
no security for the property of that kind which we have 
already. There is no clause in this Constitution to secure 
it ; for they may lay such a tax as will amount to manu- 
mission. And should the government be amended, still 
this detestable kind of commerce will be continued till after 
the expiration of twenty years ; for the 5th article which 
provides for amendments, expressly excepts this clause. I 
have ever looked upon this as a most disgraceful thing to 

I cannot express my detestation of it. Yet they have 
not secured us the property of the slaves we have already. 

So that "they have done what they ought not to have 
done, and have left undone what they ought to have 

Mr. Madison. Mr. Chairman : I should conceive this 
clause to be impolitic, if it were one of those things which 
could be excluded without encountering greater evils. 

The Southern States would not have entered into the 


Union of America without the temporary permission of that 
trade ; and if they were excluded from the Union, the con- 
sequences might be dreadful to them and to us. We are 
not in a worse situation than before. The traffic is pro- 
hibited by our laws, and we may continue the prohibition. 
The Union in general is not in a worse situation. 

Under the Articles of Confederation, it might be con- 
tinued forever ; but, by this clause, an end may be put to it 
after twenty years. There is, therefore, an amelioration of 
our circumstances. 

A tax may be laid in the mean time ; but it is limited ; 
otherwise Congress might lay such a tax as would amount 
to a prohibition. From the mode of representation and 
taxation, Congress cannot lay such a tax on slaves as will 
amount to manumission. 

Another clause secures us that property which we now 

At present, if any slave elopes to any of those States 
where slaves are free, he becomes emancipated by their laws ; 
for the laws of the States are uncharitable to one another in 
this respect. But in this Constitution, " no person held to 
service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escap- 
ing into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regula- 
tion therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but 
shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such 
service or labor shall be due." This clause was expressly 
inserted, to enable owners of slaves to reclaim them. 

This is a better security than any that now exists. No 
power is given to the general government to interpose with 
respect to the property in slaves now held by the States. 
The taxation of this State being equal only to its represen- 
tation, such a tax cannot be laid as he supposes. 

They cannot prevent the importation of slaves for twenty 
years ; but after that period they can. The gentlemen from 
South Carolina and Georgia argued in this manner : " We 


have now liberty to import this species of property, and 
much of the property now possessed had been purchased, or 
otherwise acquired, in contemplation of improving it by the 
assistance of imported slaves. What would be the conse- 
sequence of hindering us from it ? The slaves of Virginia 
would rise in value, and we should be obliged to go to your 

I need not expatiate on this subject. Great as the evil 
is, a dismemberment of the Union would be worse. If 
those States should disunite from the other States for not 
indulging them in the temporary continuance of this traffic, 
they might solicit and obtain aid from foreign powers. 

Mr. Tyler warmly enlarged on the impolicy, iniquity, 
and disgraceful ness of this wicked traffic. He thought the 
reasons urged by gentlemen in defense of it were inconclu- 
sive and ill founded. 

It was one cause of the complaints against Britisli 
tyranny, that this trade was permitted. The Revolution had 
put a period to it ; but now it was to be revived. He thought 
nothing could justify it. 

This temporary restriction on Congress militated, in his 
opinion, against the argumeuts of gentlemen on the other 
side, that what was not given up was retained to the States ; 
for that, if this restriction had not been inserted, Congress 
could have prohibited the African trade. The power of 
prohibiting it was not expressly delegated to them ; yet 
they would have had it by implication, if this restraint had 
not been provided. This seemed to him to demonstrate 
most clearly the necessity of restraining them, by a bill of 
rights, from infringing our unalienable rights. It was im- 
material whether the bill of rights was by itself, or included 
in the Constitution. 

But he contended for it one way or the other. It would 
be justified by our own example and that of England. 


His earnest desire was, that it should be handed down to 
posterity that he had opposed this wicked clause. 

Mr. Madison was surprised that any gentleman should 
return to the clauses which had already been discussed. 

He begged the gentleman to read the clauses which gave 
the power of exclusive legislation, and he might see that 
nothing could be done without the consent of the States. 

With respect to the supposed operation of what was de- 
nominated the sweeping clause, the gentleman, he said, was 
mistaken ; for it only extended to the enumerated powers. 

Should Congress attempt to extend it to any power not 
enumerated, it would not be warranted by the clause. 

As to the restriction in the clause under consideration, it 
was a restraint on the exercise of a power expressly dele- 
gated to Congress ; namely, that of regulating commerce 
with foreign nations. 

Patrick Henry insisted that the insertion of these restric- 
tions on Congress was a plain demonstration that Congress 
could exercise powers by implication. The gentleman had 
admitted that Congress could have interdicted the African 
trade, were it not for this restriction. If so, the power, not 
having been expressly delegated, must be obtained by im- 
plication. He demanded where, then, was their doctrine 
of reserved rights. He wished for negative clauses to pre- 
vent them from assuming any powers but those expressly 
given. He asked why it was omitted to secure us that pro- 
perty in slaves which we held now. He feared its omission 
was done with design. They might lay such taxes on 
slaves as would amount to emancipation ; and then the 
Southern States would be the only sufferers. 

His opinion was confirmed by the mode of levying mo- 
ney. Congress, he observed, had power to lay and collect 
taxes, imposts, and excises. Imposts (or duties) and ex- 
cises were to be uniform ; but this uniformity did not ex- 
tend to taxes. This might compel the Southern States to 


liberate their negroes. He wished this property, therefore, 
to be guarded. He considered the clause, which had been 
adduced by the gentleman as a security for this property, 
as no security at all. It was no more than this — that a 
runaway negro could be taken up in Maryland or New 
York. ' 

This could not prevent Congress from interfering with 
that property by laying a grievous and enormous tax on it, 
so as to compel owners to emancipate their slaves rather 
than pay the tax. 

He apprehended it would be productive of much stock- 
jobbing, and that they would play into one another's hands 
in such a manner as that this property would be lost to the 

Mr. George Nicholas wondered that gentlemen who 
were against slavery should be opposed to this clause ; as, 
after that period, the slave trade would be done away. 

He asked if gentlemen do not see the inconsistency of 
their arguments. 

They object, says he, to the Constitution, because the 
slave trade is laid open for twenty odd years ; and yet they 
tell you that, by some latent operation of it, the slaves who 
are so now will be manumitted. 

At the same moment it is opposed for being promotive 
and destructive of slavery. He contended that it was ad- 
vantageous to Virginia that it should be in the power of 
Congress to prevent the importation of slaves after twenty 
years, as it would then put a period to the evil com- 
plained of. 

As the Southern States would not confederate without 
this clause, he asked if gentlemen would rather dissolve the 
confederacy than to suffer this temporary inconvenience, 
admitting it to be such. 

Virginia might continue the prohibition of such importa- 
tion during the intermediate period, and would be benefited 


by it, as a tax of ten dollars on each slave might be laid, of 
which she would receive a share. 

He endeavored to obviate the objection of gentlemen, 
that the restriction on Congress was a proof that they 
would have powers not given them, by remarking, that they 
would only have had a general superintendency of trade, if 
the restriction had not been inserted. 

But the Southern States insisted on this exception to that 
general superintendency for twenty years. It could not, 
therefore, have been a power by implication, as the restric- 
tion was an exception from a delegated power. The taxes 
could not, as had been suggested, be laid so high ou negroes 
as to amount to emancipation ; because taxation and repre- 
sentation were fixed according to the census established in 
the Constitution. The exception of taxes from the unifor- 
mity annexed to duties and excises could not have the 
operation contended for by the gentleman, because other 
clauses had clearly and positively fixed the census. 

Had taxes been uniform, it would have been universally 
objected to ; for no one object could be selected without 
involving great inconveniences and oppressions. 

But, says, Mr. Nicholas, is it from the general govern- 
ment we are to fear emancipation ? Gentlemen will recollect 
what I said in another house, and what other gentlemen 
have said, that advocated emancipation. Give me leave to 
say, that clause is a great security for our slave tax. I can 
tell the committee that the people of our own country are 
reduced to beggary by the taxes on negroes. 

Had this Constitution been adopted, it would not have 
been the case. The taxes were laid on all our negroes. 
By this system two-fifths are exempted. 

He then added, that he had not imagined gentlemen 
would support here what they had opposed in another place. 

Mr. Henry replied that, though the proportion of each 
was to be fixed by the census, and three-fifths of the slaves 


only were included in the enumeration, yet the proportion 
of Virginia, being once fixed, might be laid on blacks and 
blacks only ; for the mode of raising the proportion of each 
State being to be directed by Congress, they might make 
slaves the sole object to raise it. 

Personalities he wished to take leave of; they had nothing 
to do with the question, which was solely whether that paper 
was wrong or not. 

Mr. Nicholas replied, that negroes must be considered as 
persons or property. If as property, the proportion of 
taxes to be laid on them was fixed in the Constitution. 

If he apprehended a poll tax on negroes, the Constitu- 
tion had prevented it ; for, by the census, where a white 
man paid ten shillings, a negro paid but six shillings ; for 
the exemption of two fifths of them reduced it to that pro- 

Mr. George Mason said, that gentlemen might think 
themselves secured by the restriction, in the fourth clause, 
that no capitation or other direct tax should be laid but in 
proportion to the census before directed to be taken ; but 
that, when maturely considered, it would be found to be no 
security whatsoever. It was nothing but a direct assertion, 
or mere confirmation of the clause which fixed the ratio of 
taxes and representation. It only meant that the quantum 
to be received of each State should be in proportion to 
their numbers, in the manner therein directed. But the 
general government was not precluded from- laying the 
proportion of any particular State on any one species of 
property they might think proper. 

For instance, if five hundred thousand dollars were to be 
raised, they might lay the whole of the proportion of the 
Southern States on the blacks, or any one species of 
property ; so that by laying taxes too heavily on slaves, 
they might totally annihilate that kind of property. No 
real security could arise from the clause which provides 


that persons held to labor in one state, escaping into 
another, shall be delivered up. This only meant that runa- 
way slaves should not be protected in other States. As to 
the exclusion of ex post facto laws, it could not be said to 
create any security in this case ; for laying a tax on slaves 
would not be ex post facto. 

Mr. Madison replied, that even the Southern States, 
which were most affected, were perfectly satisfied with this 
provision, and dreaded no danger to the property they now 
hold. It appeared to him that the general government 
would not intermeddle with that property for twenty years, 
but to lay a tax on every slave imported, not exceeding ten 
dollars ; and that, after the expiration of that period, they 
might prohibit the traffic altogether. The census in the 
Constitutiou was intended to introduce equality in the bur- 
dens to be laid on the community. 

No gentleman objected to laying duties, imposts, and ex- 
cises uniformly. But uniformity of taxes would be subver- 
sive of the principles of equality ; for it was not possible to 
select any article which would be easy for one State but 
what would be heavy for another ; that the proportion of 
each State being ascertained, it would be raised by the 
general government in the most convenient manner for the 
people, and not by the selection of any one particular object ; 
that there must be some degree of confidence put in agents, 
or else we must reject a state of civil society altogether. 

Another great security to this property, which he men- 
tioned, was, that five States were greatly interested in that 
species of property, and there were other States which had 
some slaves, and had made no attempt, or taken any step, 
to take them from the people. 

There were a few slaves in New York, New Jersey, and 
Connecticut ; these States would, probably, oppose any at- 
tempts to annihilate this species of property. 


He concluded by observing that he should be glad to 
eave the decision of this to the committee. 

Mr. Henry. As much as I deplore slavery, I see that 
prudence forbids its abolition. I deny that the general 
government ought to set them free, because a decided ma- 
jority of the States have not the ties of sympathy and fel- 
low-feeling for those whose interest would be affected by 
their emancipation. The majority of Congress is to the 
North, and the slaves are to the South. 

In this situation, I see a great deal of the property of the 
people of Virginia in jeopardy, and their peace and tran- 
quillity gone. I repeat it again, that it would rejoice my 
very soul that every one of my fellow-beings were emanci- 

As we ought with gratitude to admire that decree of 
Heaven which has numbered us among the free, we ought 
to lament and deplore the necessity of holding our fellow- 
men in bondage. 

But is it practicable, by any human means, to liberate 
them without producing the most dreadful and ruinous con- 
sequences ? We ought to possess them in the manner we 
inherited them from our ancestors, as their manumission is 
incompatible with the felicity of our country. 

But we ought to soften, as much as possible, the rigor of 
their unhappy fate. I know, that in a variety of particular 
instances, the legislature, listening to complaints, have ad- 
mitted their emancipation. Let me not dwell on this subject. 

I will only add, that this, as well as every other property 
of the people of Virginia, is in jeopardy, and put in the 
hands of those who have no similarity of situation with us. 

This is a local matter, and I can see no propriety in sub- 
jecting it to Congress. 

Gov. Randolph. Mr. Chairman : Once more, sir, I ad- 
dress you, and perhaps it will be the last time I shall speak 


concerning this Constitution, unless I be urged by the ob- 
servations of some gentlemen. 

Although this is not the first time that my mind has been 
brought to contemplate this awful period, yet I acknowl- 
edge it is not rendered less awful by familiarity with it. 

Did 1 persuade myself that those fair days were present 
which the honorable gentlemen described — could I bring 
my mind to believe that there were peace and tranquillity 
in this land, and that there was no storm gathering which 
would burst, and that previous amendments could be re- 
tained — I would concur with the honorable gentleman ; for 
nothing but the fear of inevitable destruction would lead 
me to vote for the Constitution in spite of the objections I 
have to it. 

But, sir, what have I heard to-day ? I sympathized 
most warmly with what other gentlemen said yesterday, 
that, let the contest be what it may, the minority should 
submit to the majority. With satisfaction and joy I heard 
what he then said — that he would submit, and that there 
should be peace if his power could preserve it. 

What a sad reverse to-day ! Are we not told, by way 
of counterpart to language that did him honor, that he 
would secede ? I hope he will pardon ; and correct me if 
I misrecite him ; but if not corrected, my interpretation is, 
that secession by him will be the consequence of adoption 
without previous amendments. 

[Here Mr. Henry explained himself, and denied having 
said any thing of secession ; but that he said, he would 
have no hand in subsequent amendments ; that he would 
remain and vote, and afterward he would have no business 

I see, continued His Excellency, that I am not mistaken 
in my thoughts. 

The honorable gsntleman says, he will remain and vote 
on the question, but after that he has no business here, and 


that he will go home. I beg to make a few remarks on the 
subject of secession. 

If there be in this house members who have in contem- 
plation to secede from the majority, let me conjure them, 
by all the ties of honor and duty, to consider what they are 
about to do. 

Some of them have more property than I have, and all 
of them are equal to me in personal rights. Such an 
idea of refusing to submit to the decision of the majority 
is destructive of every republican principle. 

It will kindle a civil war, and reduce every thing to an- 
archy and confusion. To avoid a calamity so lamentable, 
I would submit to it, if it contained greater evils than it 

What are they to say to their constituents when they go 
home ? " We come here to tell you that liberty is in 
danger, and, though the majority is in favor of it, you 
ought not to submit." Can any man consider, without 
shuddering with horror, the awful consequences of such 
desperate conduct? I entreat men to consider and ponder 
what good citizenship requires of them. 

I conjure them to contemplate the consequences as to 
themselves as well as others. They themselves will be over- 
whelmed in the general disorder. 

I did not think that the proposition of the honorable 
gentleman near me (Mr. White) could have met with the 
treatment it has. The honorable gentleman says there are 
only three rights stipulated in it. I thought this error 
might have been accounted for at first ; but after he read 
it, the continuance of the mistake has astonished me. 

He has wandered from the point. [Here he read Mr. 
White's proposition.] Where in this paper do you dis- 
cover that the people of Yirginia are tenacious of three 
rights only ? It declares that all power comes from the 
people, and whatever is not granted by them remains with 


them ; that among other tilings remaining with them are 
liberty of the press, right of conscience, and some other 
essential rights. Could you devise any express form of 
\\<>rds by which the rights contained in the bill of rights of 
Virginia could be better secured or more fnlly compre- 
hended ? What is the paper which he offers in the form 
of a bill of rights ? Will that better secure our rights than 
a declaration like this ? All rights are therein declared to 
be completely vested in the people, unless expressly given 
away. Can there be a more pointed or positive reser- 
vation ? 

That honorable gentleman, and some others, have insisted 
that the abolition of slavery will result from it, and at the 
same time have complained that it encourages its continu- 

The inconsistency proves, in some degree, the futility of 
their arguments. 

But if it be not conclusive, to satisfy the committee that 
there is no danger of enfranchisement taking place, I beg 
leave to refer them to the paper itself. 

I hope that there is none here who, considering the sub- 
ject in the calm light of philosophy, will advance an objec- 
tion dishonorable to Virginia — that, at the moment they 
are securing the the rights of their citizens, an objection is 
started that there is a spark of hope that those unfortunate 
men now held in bondage may, by the operation of the 
general government, be made free. But if any gentleman 
be terrified by this apprehension, let him read the system. 

I ask, and I will ask again and again, till I be answered 
(not by declamation), Where is the part that has a tendency 
to the abolition of slavery"! Is it the clause which says 
that "the migration or importation of such persons as any 
of the States now existing shall think proper to admit shall 
be prohibited by Congress prior to the year 1808"? 


This is an exception from the power of regulating com- 
merce, and the restriction is only to continue till 1808. 

Then Congress can, by the exercise of that power, pre- 
vent future importations ; but does it affect the existing 
state of slavery ? Were it right here to mention what 
passed in Convention on the occasion, I might tell you that 
the Southern States, even South Carolina herself , conceived 
this property to be secure by these words. 

I believe, whatever we may think here, that there was not 
a member of the Virginia delegation who had the smallest 
suspicion of the abolition of slavery. Go to their mean- 
ing. Point out the clause where this formidable power of 
emancipation is inserted. 

But another clause of the Constitution proves the ab- 
surdity of the supposition. The words of the clause are, 
" No persons held to service or labor in one State, under 
the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence 
of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such 
service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the 
party to whom such service or labor may be due." Every 
one knows that slaves are held to service and labor. And 
when authority is given to owners of slaves to vindicate 
their property, can it be supposed they can be deprived 
of it? 

If a citizen of this State, in consequence of this clause, 
can take his runaway slave in Maryland, can it be seriously 
thought that, after taking him and bringing him home, he could 
be made free ? I observed that the honorable gentleman's 
proposition comes in a truly questionable shape, and is still 
more extraordinary and unaccountable for another conside- 
ration — that although we went, article by article, through 
the Constitution, and although we did not expect a general 
review of the subject (as a most comprehensive view had 
been taken of it before it was regularly debated), yet we 


are carried back to the cause giving that dreadful, power, 
for the general welfare. 

Pardon me, if I remind you of the true state of that 
business. I appeal to the candor of the honorable gentle- 
man, and if he thinks it an improper appeal, I ask the 
gentlemen here, whether there be a general, indefinite 
power of providing for the general welfare ? The power 
is, " to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excise, to 
pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and 
general welfare ;" so that they can only raise money by 
these means, in order to provide for the general welfare. 

No man who reads it can say it is general, as the honor- 
able gentleman represents it. You must violate every rule 
of construction and common sense, if you sever it from the 
power of raising money, and annex it to any thing else, in 
order to make it that formidable power which it is repre- 
sented to be. 


July 24, 1TS8. Mr. Goudy. Mr. Chairman : This clause 
of taxation will give an advantage to some States over the 
others. It will be oppressive to the Southern States. 
Taxes are equal to our representation. To augment our 
taxes, and increase our burdens, our negroes are to be rep- 
resented. If a State has fifty thousand negroes, she is to 
send one representative for them. I wish not to be repre- 
sented with negroes, especially if it increases my burdens. 

Mr. Davie. Mr. Chairman : I will endeavor to obviate 
what the gentleman last up said. I wonder to see gentle- 
men so precipitate and hasty on a subject of awful import- 
ance. It ought to be considered, that some of us are slow 
of apprehension, or not having those quick conceptions 
and luminous understandings, of which other gentlemen 
may be possessed. 

The gentleman "does not wish to hp ^presented with 


negroes." This, sir, is an unhappy species of population ; 
but we cannot at present alter their situation. 

The Eastern States had great jealousies on this subject. 
They insisted that their cows and horses were equally 
entitled to representation ; that the one was property as 
well as the other. 

It became our duty, on the other hand, to acquire as 
much weight as possible in the legislation of the Union ; 
and, as the Northern States were more populous in whites, 
this only could be done by insisting that a certain propor- 
tion of our slaves should make a part of the computed 
population. It was attempted to form a rule of repre- 
sentation from a compound ratio of wealth and population ; 
but, on consideration, it was found impracticable to deter- 
mine the comparative value of lands, and other property, in 
so extensive a territory, with any degree of accuracy ; and 
population alone was adopted as the only practicable rule 
or criterion of representation. 

It was urged by the deputies of the Eastern States, that 
a representation of two-fifths would be of little utility, and 
that their entire representation would be unequal and bur- 
densome — that, in a time of war, slaves rendered a country 
more vulnerable, while its defense devolved upon its free 
inhabitants. On the other hand, we insisted that, in time 
of peace, they contributed, by their labor, to the general 
wealth, as well as other members of the community — that, 
as rational beings, they had a right of representation, and, 
in some instances, might be highly useful in war. 

On these principles, the Eastern States gave the matter 
up, and consented to the regulation as it has been read. 

I hope these reasons will appear satisfactory. It is the 
same rule or principle which was proposed some years ago 
by Congress, and assented to by twelve of the States. It 
may wound the delicacy of the gentleman from Guilford, 
(Mr. Goudy,) but I hope he will endeavor to accommodate 


bit feelings to the interest and eirenm>tances of his country. 
[1st clause of the 9th section read.] 

Mr. J. McDowall, wished to hear the reasons of this re- 

Mr. Spaight answered, that there was a contest between 
the Northern and Southern States ; that the Southern 
States, whose principal support depended on the labor of 
slaves, would not consent to the doire of the Northern 
States to exclude the importation of slaves absolutely ; thai 
South Carolina and (Jeorgia insisted on this elan>e, a> they 
were now in want of hands to cultivate their lands; that in 
the course of twenty years they would he fully supplied ; that 
the trade would be abolished then, and that, in the mean time, 
some tax or duty might be laid on it. 

Mr. M'Dowall replied, that the explanation was justsuch 
as he expected, and by no means satisfactory to him, and 
that he looked upon it as a very objectionable part of the 

Mr. Iredell. Mr. Chairman : I rise to express sentiments 
similar to those of the gentleman from Craven. For my 
part, w r ere it practicable to put an end to the importation 
of slaves immediately, it would give me the greatest plea- 
sure ; for it is a trade inconsistent with the rights of hu- 
manity, and under which great cruelties have been ex- 

When the entire abolition of slavery takes place, it will 
be an event which must be pleasing to every generous mind, 
and every friend of human nature ; but we often wish for 
things which are not attainable. It was the wish of a great 
majority of the Convention to put an end to the trade im- 
mediately ; but the States of South Carolina and Georgia 
would not agree to it. Consider, then, what would be the 
difference between our present situation in this respect, if 
we do not agree to the Constitution, and what it will be if 
we do agree to it. 


If we do not agree to it, do we remedy the evil ? No, 
sir, we do not. For if the Constitution be not adopted, it 
will be in the power of every State to continue it forever. 

They may or may not abolish it, at their discretion. But 
if we adopt the Constitution, the trade must cease after 
twenty years, if Congress declare so, whether particular 
States please so or not ; surely, then, we can gain by it. 

This was the utmost that could be obtained. I heartily 
wish more could have been done. But, as it is, this govern- 
ment is nobly distinguished above others by that very pro- 

Where is there another country in which such a restriction 
prevails ? We, therefore, sir, set an example of humanity, 
by providing for the abolition of this inhuman traffic, 
though at a distant period. 

I hope, therefore, that this part of the Constitution will 
not be condemned because it has not stipulated for what 
was impracticable to obtain. 

Mr. Spaight further explained the clause. That the 
limitation of this trade to the term of twenty years was 
a compromise between the Eastern States and the Southern 
States. South Carolina and Georgia wished to extend the 

The Eastern States insisted on the entire abolition of the 
trade. That the State of North Carolina had not thought 
proper to pass any law prohibiting the importation of slaves, 
and therefore its delegation in the Convention did not think 
themselves authorized to contend for an immediate prohibi- 
tion of it. 

Mr. Iredell added to what he had said before, that the 
States of Georgia and South Carolina had lost a great many 
slaves during the war, and that they wished to supply the 

Mr. Galloway. Mr. Chairman : The explanation given to 


this clause docs not satisfy ray mind. I wish to see this 
abominable trade put an end to. 

But in case it be thought proper to continue this abomi- 
nable traffic for twenty years, yet I do not wish to see the 
tax ou the importation extended to all persons whatsoever. 
Our situation is different from the people of the North. 
We want citizens ; they do not. 

Instead of laying a tax, we ought to give a bounty to en- 
courage foreigners to come among us. With respect to the 
abolition of slavery, it requires the utmost consideration. 
The property of the Southern States consists principally of 
slaves. If they mean to do away slavery altogether, this 
property will be destroyed. I apprehend it means to bring 
forward manumission. If we must manumit our slaves, 
what country shall we send them to ? It is impossible 
for us to be happy if, after manumission, they are to stay 
among us. 

Mr. Iredell. Mr. Chairman : The worthy gentleman, I 
believe, has misunderstood this clause, which runs in the 
following words : " The migration or importation of such 
persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper 
to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to 
the year 1808 ; but a tax or duty may be imposed on such 
importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person." 
Now, sir, observe that the Eastern States, who long ago 
have abolished slaves, did not approve of the expression 
slaves ; they therefore used another, that answered the same 

The committee will observe the distinction between the 
words migration and importation. The first part of the 
clause will extend to persons who come into this country as 
free people, or are brought as slaves. But the last part 
extends to slaves only. The word migration refers to free 
persons ; but the word importation refers to slaves, because 
free people cannot be said to be imported. The tax, there- 


fore, is only to be laid on slaves who are imported, and not 
on free persons who migrate. 

I further beg leave to say that the gentleman is mistaken 
in another thing. He seems to say that this extends to the 
abolition of slavery. Is there anything in this Constitution 
which says that Congress shall have it in their power to 
abolish the slavery of those slaves who are now in the coun- 
try ? Is it not the plain meaning of it, that after twenty 
years they may prevent the future importation of slaves ? 
It does not extend to those now in the country. 

There is another circumstance to be observed. There is 
no authority vested in Congress to restrain the States, in 
the interval of twenty years, from doing what they please. 
If they wish to prohibit such importation, they may do so. 
Our next assembly may put an entire end to the importation 
of slaves. 

Article 4. The first section and two first clauses of the 
second section read without observation. The last clause 

Mr. Iredell begged leave to explain the reason of this 
clause. In some of the Northern States they have emanci- 
pated all their slaves. If any of our slaves, said he, go 
there, and remain there a certain time, they would, by the 
present laws, be entitled to their freedom, so that their mas- 
ters could not get them again. This would be extremely 
prejudicial to the inhabitants of the Southern States ; and 
to prevent it, this clause is inserted in the Constitution. 
Though the word slave is not mentioned, this is the mean- 
ing of it. 

The Northern delegates, owing to their particular scru- 
ples on the subject of slavery, did not choose the word 
slave to be mentioned. 

Mr. Iredell, upon Art. 5th, said — Mr. Chairman : This 
is a very important clause. In every other constitution of 


government that I have ever heard or read of, no provision 
is made for necessary amendments. 

The misfortune attending most constitutions which have 
been deliberately formed, has been, that those who formed 
them thought their wisdom equal to all possible contingen- 
cies, and that there could be no error in what they did. 

The gentlemen who framed this Constitution thought 
with much more diffidence of their capacities ; and, un- 
doubtedly, without a provision for amendment, it would 
have been justly liable to objection, and the characters of 
its framers would have appeared much less meritorious. 

This, indeed, is one of the greatest beauties of the 
tem, and should strongly recommend it to every candid 

The constitution of any government which cannot be re- 
gularly amended when its defects arc experienced, reduces 
the people to this dilemma — they must either submit to its 
oppressions, or bring about amendments, more or less, by a 
civil war. Happy this, the country we live in ! 

The Constitution before us, if it be adopted, can be 
altered with as much regularity, and as little confusion, as 
any act of Assembly ; not, indeed, quite so easily, which 
would be extremely impolitic ; but it is a most happy cir- 
cumstance, that there is a remedy in the system itself for its 
own fallibility, so that alterations can without difficulty be 
made, agreeable to the general sense of the people. Let 
us attend to the manner in which amendments may be 
made. The proposition for amendments may arise from 
Congress itself, when two-thirds of both Houses shall deem 
it necessary. 

If they should not, and yet amendments be generally 
wished for by the people, two-thirds of the legislatures of 
the different States may require a general convention for 
the purpose, in which case Congress are under the necessity 
of convening one 


Any amendments which either Congress shall propose, 
or which shall be proposed by such general convention, 
are afterwards to be submitted to the legislatures of the 
different States, or conventions called for that purpose, as 
Congress shall think proper, and upon the ratification of 
three-fourths of the States, will become a part of the Con- 
stitution. By referring this business to legislatures, ex- 
pense would be saved ; and in general, it may be presumed, 
they would speak the genuine sense of the people. It may, 
however, on some occasions, be better to consult an imme- 
diate delegation for that special purpose. This is therefore 
left discretionary. It is highly probable that amendments 
agreed to in either of these methods would be conducive to 
the public welfare, when so large a majority of the States 
consented to them. 

And in one of these modes, amendments that are now 
wished for may, in a short time, be made to this Consti- 
tution by the States adopting it. 

It is, however, to be observed, that the 1st and 4th 
clauses in the 9th section of the 1st article are protected 
from any alteration till the year 1808; and in order that 
no consolidation should take place, it is provided that no 
State shall, by any amendment or alteration, be ever de- 
prived of an equal suffrage in the Senate without its own 

The first two prohibitions are with respect to the census, 
(according to which direct taxes are imposed,) and with 
respect to the importation of slaves. As to the first, it 
must be observed, that there is a material difference be- 
tween the Northern and Southern States. The Northern 
States have been much longer settled, and are much fuller 
of people, than the Southern, but have not land in equal 
proportion, nor scarcely any slaves. The subject of this 
article was regulated with great difficulty, and by a spirit 


of concession which it would not be prudent to distort) for 
a good many years. 

In twenty years, there will probably be a great alteration, 
and then- the subject may be reconsidered with less difficulty 
and greater coulness. 

In the mean time, the compromise was upon the best 
footing that could be obtained. A compromise likewise 
took place in regard to the importation of slaves. It is 
probable that all the members reprobated this inhuman 
traffic; but those of South Carolina and Georgia would not 
consent to an immediate prohibition of it — one reason of 
which was, that, during the last war, they lost a vast num- 
ber of negroes, which loss they wish to supply. 

In the mean time, it is left to the States to admit or pro- 
hibit the importation, and Congress may imoose a limited 
duty upon it. 


January 16, 1188. Hon. Rawlins Lowndes. It has 
been said that this new government was to be considered as 
an experiment. He really was afraid it would prove a fatal 
one to our peace and happiness. An experiment ! 

What ! risk the loss of political existence on experiments ? 
No, sir; if we are to make experiments, rather let them be 
such as may do good, but which cannot possibly do any in- 
jury to us or our posterity. 

So far from having any expectation of success from such 
experiments, he sincerely believed that, when this new Con- 
stitution should be adopted, the sun of the Southern States 
would set, never to rise again. 

To prove this, he observed, that six of the Eastern States 
formed a majority in the House of Representatives. In the 
enumeration he passed Rhode Island, and included Penn- 

Now, was it consonant with reason, with wisdom, with 


policy, to suppose, in a legislature where a majority of 
persons sat whose interests were greatly different from ours, 
that we had the smallest chance of receiving adequate ad- 
vantages ? Certainly not. He believed the gentlemen 
that went from this State, to represent us in Convention, 
possessed as much integrity, and stood as high in point of 
character, as any gentlemen that could have been selected ; 
and he also believed that they had done everything in their 
power to procure for us a proportionate share in this new 
government ;• but the very little they had gained proved 
what we may expect in future — that the interest of the 
Northern States would so predominate as to divest us of 
any pretensions to the title of a republic. 

In the first place, what cause was there for jealousy of 
our importing negroes ? Why confine us to twenty years, 
or, rather, why limit us at all ? For his part, he thought 
this trade could be justified on the principles of religion, 
humanity, and justice ; for certainly to translate a set of 
human beings from a bad country to a better, was fulfilling 
every part of these principles. 

But they don't like our slaves, because they have none 
themselves and therefore want to exclude us from this great 
advantage. Why should the Southern States allow of this, 
without the consent of nine States. 

Judge Pendleton observed, that only three States, Geor- 
gia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, allowed the im- 
portation of negroes. Virginia had a clause in her Consti- 
tution for this purpose, and Maryland, he believed, even 
before the war prohibited them. 

Mr. Lowndes continued, that we had a law prohibiting 
the importation of negroes for three years, a law he greatly 
approved of; but there was no reason offered why the 
Southern States might not fiud it necessary to alter their 
conduct, and open their ports. 

Without negroes, this State would degenerate into one 


of the most contemptible in the Union ; and he cited an 
expression that fell from General Pinckney, on a former 
debate, that whilst there remained one acre of swamp-land 
in South Carolina, be should raise his voice against restrict- 
ing the importation of negroes. Even in granting the im- 
portation for twenty years, care had been taken to make HI 
pay for this indulgence, each negro being liable, on import- 
ation, to pay a duty nut exceeding ten dollars, and in addi- 
tion to this they were liable to a capitation tax. Negroes 
were our wealth, our only natural resource ; yet behold how 
our kind friends in the North were determined soon to tie 
up our hands, and drain us of what we had 1 The Eastern 
States drew their means of subsistence, in a great measure, 
from their shipping ; and, on that head, they had been par- 
ticularly careful not to allow of any burdens; they were 
not to pay tonnage or duties; no, not even the form of 
clearing out ; all ports were free and open to them. Why 
then call this a reciprocal bargain, which took all from one 
party to bestow it on the other. 

Hon. E. Rutledge. In the Northern States the labor is 
performed by white people, in the Southern by black. All 
the free people (and there are few others) in the Northern 
States are to be taxed by the new Constitution ; whereas 
only the free people and two-fifths of the slaves, in the 
Southern States, are to be rated in the apportioning of 
taxes. But the principal objection is, that no duties are 
laid on shipping ; that, in fact, the carrying trade was to 
be vested, in a great measure, in the Americans ; that the 
ship-building business was principally carried on in the 
Northern States. 

When this subject is duly considered, the Southern States 
should be the last to object to it. 

Gen. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney said he would make 
a few observation on the objections which the gentleman 


had thrown out on the restriction that might be laid on the 
African trade after the year 1808. 

On this pqint your delegates had to contend with the 
religious and political prejudices of the Eastern and Middle 
States,, and with the interested and inconsistent opinion of 
Virginia, who was warmly opposed to our importing more 

I am of the same opinion now as I was two years ago, 
when I used the expressions the gentleman has quoted — 
that while there remained one acre of swamp-land uncleared 
in South Carolina, I would raise my voice against restrict- 
ing the importation of negroes. 

I am as thoroughly convinced as that gentleman is, that 
the nature of our climate, and the flat, swampy situation 
of our country, obliges us to cultivate our lands with 
negroes, and that without them South Carolina would soon 
be a desert waste. 

You have so frequently heard my sentiments on this sub- 
ject, that I need not now repeat them. It was alleged, by 
some of the members who opposed an unlimited importa- 
tion, that slaves increased the weakness of any State who 
admitted them ; that they were a dangerous species of 
property, which an invading enemy could easily turn against 
ourselves and the neighboring States ; and that, as we were 
allowed a representation for them in the House of Repre- 
sentatives, our influence in government would be increased 
in proportion as we were less able to defend ourselves. 

" Show some period," said the members from the Eastern 
States, " when it may be in our power to put a stop, if we 
please, to the importation of this weakness, and we will 
endeavor, for your convenience, to restrain the religious 
and political prejudices of our people on this subject." 

The Middle States and Virginia made us no such propo- 
sition ; they were for an immediate and total prohibition. 

We endeavored to obviate the objections that were made 


in the best manner we could, and assigned reasons for our 
insisting on the importation, which there is no occasion to 
repeat, as they must occur to every gentleman in the both 
a committee of the States was appointed, in order to accom- 
modate this matter, and, after a great deal of difficulty, it 
was settled on the footing recited In the Constitution. 

By this settlement we have secured an unlimited importa- 
tion of negroes for twenty years. Nor is it declared that 
the importation shall then l>e stopped ; it may be continued. 

We have a security that the general government can 
never emancipate them, for no such authority is granted ; 
and it is admitted, on all hands, that the general govern- 
ment has no powers but what are expressly granted by the 
Constitution, and that all rights not expressed were reserved 
by the several States. 

We have obtained a right to recover our slaves, in what- 
ever part of America they may take refuge, which is a right 
we had not before. 

In short, considering all circumstances, we have made 
the best terms for the security of this species of property 
it was in our power to make. 

We would have made better if we could ; but on the 
whole, I do not think them bad. 



The following authentic history of the Ordinance of 
1787 was prepared for the National Intelligencer in 1847. 
The author has kindly permitted us to use it in this volume. 
It is unquestionably the only perfect history of that Ordi- 
nance ever given to the American people. We copy it 
with the remarks of that journal. 

"A discussion having arisen in the public prints as to 
the authorship of certain important provisions embraced in 
the Ordinance of 1787 for the government of the Western 
Territory, now constituting several States of the Union, 
and especially in regard to that celebrated provision which 
forever excluded slavery from that vast and fertile region ; 
our fellow-townsman, Peter Force, Esq., has prepared 
from authentic materials the article which appears on the 
preceding page. From this careful exposition, it seems 
clear that Mr. Webster was right when, in his celebrated 
speech on Foote's resolution, he ascribed the authorship 
(if not the original conception) of the clause above speci- 
fied to Nathan Dane, of Massachusetts. 

"It happens that, in seeking among the archives of all 
the old States, and among numerous private collections, for 
materials for his voluminous work, 'American Archives,' 
Mr. Force became possessed of the original projects and 
reports submitted to Congress respecting a plan of govern- 
ment for the Northwestern Territory, from this step in 
1784 to 1787, when the Ordinance was finally adopted. 
He has the copy of the Ordinance of 1787, with all its 


156 THE OlilM NANCE OF 1787. 

alterations marked on it, while under consideration, just as 
it was amended at the President's table, amoug which the 
clause respecting slavery remains attached to it as an 
amendment in Mr. Dane's hand-writing, in the exact words 
in which it now stands in the Ordinance. From these 
materials, together with the official journals of the body, 
Mr. Force has compiled the narrative which we now insert; 
and, his materials being thus authentic, we meet receive it 
as settling the question. Jle has taken this (rouble for the 
sake of historic truth, and the same motive, together with 
the intrinsic interest of the subject, and the further reason 
that we have given currency to versions of tho transaction 
which do injustice to the dead, have induced us cheerfully 
to yield to it the large share of our space which it occupies." 


In the history of the Ordinance of 1787, published in the 
National Intelligencer on the 6th of the present month, 
there are several errors, which, before they become u fixed 
facts" should be corrected. These notes furnish material 
for the correction of some of them. 

On the 1st of March 1784, a committee, consisting of 
Mr. Jefferson, of Virginia, Mr. Chase, of Maryland, and 
Mr. Howell, of Rhode Island, submitted to Congress the 
following plan for the temporary government of the "Western 
Territory : 

The committee appointed to prepare a plan for the tem- 
porary government of the Western Territory have agreed to 
the following resolutions, — 

Resolved, That the Territory ceded or to be ceded by 
individual States to the United States, whensoever the 
same shall have been purchased of the Indian inhabitants 
and offered for sale by the United States, shall be formed 
into additional States, bounded in the following manner, as 
nearly as such cessions will admit ; that is to say North- 


wardly and Southwardly by parallels of latitude, so that 
each State shall comprehend, from South to North, two de- 
grees of latitude, beginning to count from the completion 
of thirty-one degrees north of the equator : but any terri- 
tory northwardly of the 4?th degree shall make part of the 
State next below. And eastwardly and westwardly they 
shall be bounded, those on the Mississippi, by that river on 
one side and the meridian of the lowest point of the rapids 
of the Ohio on the other; and those adjoining on the east, 
by the same meridian on their western side, and on their 
eastern by the meridian of the western cape of the mouth of 
the Great Kanawha. And the territory eastward of this 
last meridian, between the Ohio, Lake Erie and Pennsyl- 
vania shall be one State. 

That the settlers within the territory so to be purchased 
and offered for sale, shall, either on their own petition, or 
the order of Congress, receive authority from them, with ap- 
pointments of time and place, for their free males, of full 
age, to meet together, for the purpose of establishing a 
temporary government, to adopt the constitution and laws 
of any one of these States, so that such laws nevertheless 
shall be subject to alteration by their ordinary legislature, 
and to erect, subject to a like alteration, counties or town- 
ships for the election of members for their legislature. 

That such temporary government shall only continue in 
force in any State until it shall have acquired 20,000 free 
inhabitants, when, giving due proof thereof to Congress, they 
shall receive from them authority, with appointments of time 
and place, to call a convention of representatives to establish a 
permanent constitution and government for themselves. 

Provided, That both the temporary and permanent 
government be established on these principles as their 
basis : 

1. That they shall forever remain a part of the United 
States of America. 


2. That in their persons, property, and territory they 
shall be subject to the government of the United States in 
Congress assembled, and to the Articles of Confederation in 
all those cases in which the original States shall be so 

3. That they shall be subject to pay a part of the federal 
debts contracted or to be contracted, to be apportioned on 
them by Congress according to the same common rule and 
measure by which apportionments thereof .-hall be made on 
other States. 

4. That their respective governments shall be in republi- 
can forms, and shall admit no person to be a citizen who 
holds any hereditary title. 

5. That after the year 1800 of the Christian era there 
shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of 
the said States otherwise than in punishment of crimes, 
whereof the party shall have been duly convicted to have 
been personally guilty. 

That whensoever any of the said States shall have of free 
inhabitants as many as shall then be in any one of the least 
numerous of the thirteen original States, such State shall 
be admitted by its delegates into the Congress of the United 
States, on an equal footing with the said original States, 
after which the assent of two-thirds of the United States, in 
Congress assembled, shall be requisite in all those cases 
wherein, by the confederation, the assent of nine States is 
now required; provided the consent of nine States to such 
admission may be obtained according to the 11th of the 
Articles of Confederation. Until such admission by their 
delegates into Congress, any of the said States, after the 
establishment of their temporary government, shall have 
authority to keep a sitting member in Congress, with a 
right of debating, but not voting. 

That the territory northward of the 45th degree, that is 
to say, of the completion of 45 degrees from the equator, 


and extending to the Lake of the Woods, shall be called 
Sylvania; that of the territory under the 45th and 44th de- 
grees, that which lies westward of Lake Michigan shall be 
called Michigania; and that which is eastward thereof, 
within the peninsula formed by the Lakes and waters of 
Michigan, Huron, St. Clair, and Erie shall be called Cher- 
ronesus, and shall include any part of the peninsula which 
may extend above the 45th degree. Of the territory under 
the 43d and 45th degrees, that to the westward, through 
which the Assenippi or Rock river runs, shall be called 
Assenisipia ; and that to the eastward, in which are the 
the fountains of the Muskingum, the two Miamies of Ohio, 
the Wabash, the Illinois, the Miami of the Lake, and the 
Sandusky rivers, shall be called Mesopotamia. Of the ter- 
ritory which lies under the 39th and 38th degrees, to which 
shall be added so much of the point of land within the fork 
of the Ohio and Mississippi as lies under the 37th degree, 
that to the westward within and adjacent to which are the 
confluences of the rivers Wabash, Shawnee, Tamsee, Ohio, 
Illinois, Mississippi and Missouri, shall be called Polypo- 
tamia ; and that to the eastward farther up the Ohio, shall 
be called Polisipia. 

This report was recommitted to the same committee on 
the 11th of March and a new one was submitted on the 22d 
of the same month. The second report agreed in sub- 
stance with the first. The principal difference was the 
omission of the paragraph giving names to the States to be 
formed out of the Western Territory. It was taken up for 
consideration by Congress on the 19th of April, on which 
day, on the motion of Mr. Spaight, of North Carolina, the 
following clause was struck out: 

That after the year 1800 of the Christian era there shall 
be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the 
said States, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes 
whereof the party shall have been duly convicted to have 
been personally guilty. 


The report was further considered and amended on the 
20th and 21st. On the 23d it was agreed to (ten States 
voting Aye, and one Nu), without the clause prohibiting 
slavery and involuntary servitude after the year 1800. On 
the question to agree to the report, after the prohibitory 
clause was struck out, the yeas and nays were required by 
Mr. Beresford. The vote was ■ 

Ayes — New Hampshire, Mr. Foster, Mr. Blanchard ; 
Massachusetts, Mr. Gerry, Mr. Partridge ; Khode Island, 
Mr. Ellery, Mr. Howell ; Connecticut, Mr. Sherman, Mr. 
Wadsvvorth ; New York, Mr. Hewitt, Mr. Payne; New 
Jersey, Mr. Beatty, Mr. Hick; Pennsylvania, Mr. Mifflin, 
Mr. Montgomery, Mr. Hand ; Maryland, Mr. Stone, Mr. 
Chase; Virginia, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Mercer, Mr. Monroe; 
North Carolina, Mr. Williamson, Mr. Spafght. 

Nays — South Carolina, Mr. Head, Mr. Beresford. 

Absent — Helaware, Georgia. 

Thus the report of Mr. Jefferson for the temporary gov- 
ernment of the Western Territory, without any restriction 
as to slavery, received the vote of every State present ex- 
cept South Carolina. It did not lie on the table of Con- 
gress during the three years from 1784 to IT 87. During 
these three years it was the law of the land. It was re- 
pealed in 1787. 

Nearly a year after the first plan was adopted, the clause 
originally offered by Mr. Jefferson, as a part of the charter 
of compact and fundamental constitutions between the 
thirteen original States and the new States to be formed 
in the Western Territory prohibiting slavery and invol- 
untary servitude, was again submitted to Congress, omit- 
ting the time named, " after the year 1800 of the Christian 

On the 16th March, 1785 — "A motion was made by Mr. 
King, seconded by Mr. Ellery, that the following proposi- 
tion be committed : 


"That there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary 
servitude in any of the States described in the resolve of 
Congress of the 23d of April, 1784, otherwise than in the 
punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been 
personally guilty; and that this regulatiou shall be an 
article of compact, and remain a fundamental principle of 
the constitutions between the thirteen original States, and 
each of the States described in the said resolve of the 23d 
of April, 1734.* 

The motion was, "that the following proposition be 
committed" — that is, committed to a committee cf the 
whole House : it was not "in the nature of an instruction 
to the Committee on the Western Territory." At that 
time there was no such committee. It was a separate, iu- 
dependent proposition. The very terms of it show that it 
was offered as an addition to the resolve of April 23d, 
1784, with the intention of restoring to that resolve a clause 
that had originally formed part of it. 

Mr. King's motion to commit was agreed to ; eight 
States (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, 
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and 
Maryland) voted in the affirmative, and three States (Vir- 
ginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) in the negative. 
Neither Delaware nor Georgia was represented. 

After the commitment of this proposition, it was neither 
called up in Congress nor noticed by any of the committees 
who subsequently reported plans for the government of the 
Western Territory. 

The subject was not laid over from this time till Sep- 
tember, 1786. It is noticed as being before Congress on 
the 24th of March, the 10th of May, the 13th of July, and 
the 24th of August, of that year. 

On the 24th of March, 1786, a report was made by the 
grand committee of the House, to whom had been referred 


ii motion of Mr. Monroe upon the subject of the Western 

On the 10th of May, 1786, n report was made by another 
committee, consisting of Mr. Monroe of Virginia, Mr. 
Johnson of Connecticut, Mr. Kin,L r of Massachusetts, Mr. 
Kean of South Carolina, and Mr. Pinckney of South Caro- 
lina, to whom a motion of Mr. Dane, for considering and 
reporting the form of a temporary government for the 
Western Territory, was referred. This report, after 
amendments, was recommitted on the 13th of July fol- 

On the 24th of August, 1T86, the Secretary of Congress 
was directed to inform the inhabitants of Ka>kaskia "that 
Congress have under their consideration the plan of a tem- 
p <rarv government for the said district, and that its adop- 
tion will be no longer protracted than the importance 
of the subject and a due regard to their interest may 

On the 19th of September, 1TSG, a committee, consisting 
of Mr. Johnson of Connecticut, Mr. Pinckney of South 
Carolina, Mr. Smith of New York, Mr. Dane of Massachu- 
setts, and Mr. Henry of Maryland, appointed to prepare 
a " plan of temporary government for such Districts or New 
States as shall be laid out by the United States upon the 
principles of the acts of cession from individual States, and 
admitted into the confederacy," made a report, which was 
taken up for consideration on the 29th, and, after some 
discussion and several motions to amend, the further con- 
sideration was postponed. 

On the 26th of April, 1Y8Y, the same committee (Mr. 
Johnson, Mr. Pinckney, Mr. Smith, Mr. Dane, and Mr. 
Henry) reported " An Ordinance for the government of 
the Western Territory." It was read a second time, and 
amended on the 9th of May, when the next day was assigned 
for the third reading. On the 10th the order of the day 


for the third reading was called for by the State of Massa- 
chusetts, and was postponed. On the 9th and 10th of May, 
Massachusetts was represented by Mr. Gorham, Mr. King, 
and Mr. Dane. The proposition which, on Mr. King's mo- 
tion, was " committed " on the 16th of March of the pre- 
ceding year, was not in the Ordinance as reported by the 
committee, nor was any motion made in the Congress to in- 
sert it as an amendment. 

The following is a copy of the Ordinance, as amended, 
and ordered to a third reading : 


For the Government of the Western Territory. 

It is hereby ordained by the United States, in Congress 
assembled, That there shall be appointed from time to time, 
a Governor, whose commission shall continue in force for 
the term of three years, unless sooner revoked by Congress. 

There shall be appointed by Congress from time to time, 
a secretary, whose commission shall continue in force for 
four years, unless sooner revoked by Congress. It shall be 
his duty to keep and preserve the acts and laws passed by 
the General Assembly, and public records of the district, 
and of the proceedings of the Governor in his executive de- 
partment, and transmit authentic copies of such acts and 
proceedings every six months to the Secretary bf Congress. 

There shall also be appointed a court, to consist of three 
judges, any two of whom shall form a court, who shall have 
a common law jurisdiction, whose commissions shall continue 
in force during good behavior. 

And to secure the rights of personal liberty and property 
to the inhabitants and others, purchasers in the said district, 
it is hereby ordained that the inhabitants of such districts 
shall always be entitled to the benefits of the act of habeas 
corpus, and of the trial by jury. 

The Governor and judges, or a majority of them, shall 


adopt, and publish in the district, such laws of the original 
States, criminal and civil, as may be necessary and best 
suited to the circumstances of the district, and report them 
to Congress from time to time, which shall prevail in said 
district until the organization of tho General Assembly, un- 
less disapproved of by Congress ; but afterwards the General 
Assembly shall have authority to alter them as they shall think 
fit, provided, however, that said Assembly shall have no 
power to create perpetuities. 

The Governor for the time being shall be commander-in- 
chief of the militia, and appoint and commission all officers 
in the same below the rank of general officer. All officers 
of that rank shall be appointed and commissioned by Con- 

Previous to the organization of the General Assembly, 
the Governor shall appoint such magistrates and other civil 
officers in each county or township, as he shall find neces- 
sary for the preservation of peace and gootl order in the 
same. After the General Assembly shall be organized, the 
powers and duties of magistrates and other civil officers shall 
be regulated and defined by the said Assembly ; but all 
magistrates and other civil officers not herein otherwise di- 
rected, shall, during the continuance of this temporary gov- 
ernment, be appointed by the Governor. 

The Governor shall, as soon as may be, proceed to lay 
out the district into counties and townships, subject, how- 
ever, to such alterations as may thereafter be made by the 
legislature, as soon as there shall be five thousand free male 
inhabitants of full age within the said district. Upon giving 
due proof thereof to the Governor, they shall receive authori- 
ty, with time and place to elect representatives from their 
counties or townships as aforesaid, to represent them in Gen- 
eral Assembly, provided that for every five hundred free male 
inhabitants there shall be one representative, and so on pro- 
gressively with the number of free male inhabitants shall the 


right of representation increase, until the number of repre- 
sentatives amount to twenty-five ; after which the number and 
proportion of representatives shall be regulated by the legis- 
lature, provided that no person shall be eligible or qualified 
to act as a representative, unless he shall be a citizen of one 
of the United States, or have resided within the district three 
years, and shall likewise hold, in his own right in fee simple, 
two hundred acres of land within the same ; provided also, 
that a freehold or life estate in fifty acres of land, in the said 
district, of a citizen of any of the United States, and two 
years' residence, if a foreigner, in addition shall be necessary 
to qualify a man as elector for said representatives. 

The representatives thus elected shall serve for the terra 
of two years ; and in the case of the death of a representa- 
tive or removal from office, the Governor shall issue a writ 
to the county or township for which he was a member, to 
elect another in his stead, to serve during the residue of the 

The General Assembly shall consist of the Governor, a 
Legislative Council — to consist of five members, to be ap- 
pointed by the United States, in Congress assembled, to 
continue in office during pleasure, any three of whom to be 
a quorum — and a House of Representatives, who shall have 
a legislative authority, complete in all cases for the good 
government of said district ; provided that no act of the said 
General Assembly shall be construed to affect any lands the 
property of the United States ; and provided further, that 
the lands of the non-resident proprietors shall in no instance 
be taxed higher than the lands of residents. 

All bills shall originate indifferently either in the Coun- 
cil or House of Representatives, and having been passed 
by a majority in both Houses, shall be referred to the 
Governor for his assent, after obtaining which, they shall 
be complete and valid ; but no bill or legislative act, 


whatever, shall be valid, or of any force, without his 

The Governor shall have power to convene, prorogue, 
and dissolve the General Assembly, when in his opinion it 
shall be expedient 

The said inhabitants or settlers shall be subject to pay a 
part of the federal debts contracted, or to be contracted, 
and to bear a proportional share of the burdens of the 
government, to be apportioned on them by Congress, ac- 
cording to the same common rule and measure by which 
apportionments thereof shall be made on the other States. 

The Governor, Judges, Legislative Council, Secretary, 
and such other officers as Congress shall at any time 
think proper to appoint in such district, shall take an oath 
or affirmation of fidelity; the Governor before tne Presi- 
dent of Congress, and all other officers before the Governor, 
prescribed on the 27th day of January, 1785, to the Se- 
cretary of War, mutatis mutandis. 

Whensoever any of the said States shall have of free 
inhabitants as many as are equal in number to the one-thir- 
teenth part of the citizens of the original States, to be 
computed from the last enumeration, such State shall be 
admitted by its delegates into the Congress of the United 
States on an equal footing with the said original States, 
provided the consent of so many States in Congress is 
first obtained as may at that time be competent to such ad- 

Resolved, That the resolutions of the 23d of April, 
IT 84, be, and the same are hereby annulled and repealed. 

Such was the Ordinance for the government of the West- 
ern Territory, when it was ordered to a third reading on 
the 10th of May, 1787. It had then made no further pro- 
gress in the development of those great principles for which 
it has since been distinguished as one of the greatest monu- 


merits of civil jurisprudence. It made no provision for 
the equal distribution of estates. It said nothing of ex- 
tending the fundamental principles of civil and religious 
liberty; nothing of the rights of conscience, knowledge, 
or education. It did not contain the articles of compact 
which were to remain unaltered forever unless by common 

We now come to the time when these great principles 
were first brought forward. 

On the 9th of July, 1187, ordinances were again referred. 
The committee now consisted of Mr. Carrington of Vir- 
ginia, Mr. Dane of Massachusetts, Mr. R. H. Lee of Vir- 
ginia, Mr. Kean of South Carolina, and Mr. Smith of New 
York. Mr. Carrington, Mr. Lee, and Mr. Kean, the new 
members, were a majority. 

This Committee did not merely revise the Ordinance, they 
prepared and reported the great Bill of Rights for the 
territory northwest of the Ohio. 

The question is here presented, why was Mr. Carrington, 
a new member of the committee, placed at the head of it, to 
the exclusion of Mr. Dane and Mr. Smith, who had served 
previously ? In the absence of positive evidence, there 
appears to be but one answer to this question, the opinions 
of all the members were known in Congress. In the course 
of debate new views had been presented which must have 
been received with general approbation. A majority of the 
committee were the advocates of these views, and the mem- 
ber by whom they were presented to the House, was 
selected as the chairman. There is nothing improbable or 
out of the usual course in this. Indeed the prompt action of 
the committee and of the Congress goes far to confirm it. 

On the 11th of July (two days after the reference), Mr. 
Carrington reported the ordinance for the government of 
the Territory of the United States northwest of the Ohio. 
This ordinance was read a second time on the 12th, (and 


amended as stated below,) and on the 13th it was read a third 
time, and passed by the unanimous vote of the eight States 
present in the Congress. 

On the passage the Yeas and Nays (being required by 
Mr. Yates,) were as follows : 

Ayes — Massachusetts, Mr. Ilolten, Mr. Dane ; New 

York, Mr. Smith, Mr. Harney, Mr. Yates; New Jersey, 

Mr. Clark, Mr. Schureman ; Delaware, Mr. Kearney; Mr. 

Mitchell ; Virginia, Mr. Grayson, Mr. 11. II. Lee, Mr. 

Carrington ; North Carolina, Mr. Blount, Mr. Ilawkins ; 

South Carolina, Mr. Kean, Mr. lluger ; Georgia, Mr. Few, 

Mr. Tierce. 
Nays — None. 

Absent — New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, 
Pennsylvania, Maryland. 

It appears then that, instead of having "this ordinance 
under deliberation and revision for three years and six 
months," in five pays it was passed through all the forms 
of legislation — the reference, the action of the committee, 
the report, the three several readings, the discussion and 
amendment by Congress, and the final passage. 

On the 12th of July (as above stated), Mr. Dane offered 
the following amendment, which was adopted as the sixth 
of the articles of the compact : 

" Article the sixth. There shall be neither slavery nor 
involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than 
in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have 
been duly convicted. Provided always, That any person 
escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is 
claimed in any of the original States, such fugitive may 
be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming 
his or her labor or service as aforesaid." 

This had in part been presented by Mr. Jefferson, in 
It 84, and again by Mr. King, in It 85. The assertion 
that this clause, "as it now exists in the ordinance," was 


"proposed and carried by Mr. King, when neither Jefferson 
nor Dane was present," is singularly incorrect. In the 
proposition submitted by Mr. King in 1185 (which was 
never afterwards called up in Congress) there was no pro- 
vision for reclaiming fugitives; and without such a pro- 
vision it could not have been carried at all : besides, the 
clause, "as it now exists in the ordinance,'' was proposed 
by Mr. Dane on the 12th of July, 17 87, and carried by 
the unanimous vote of Congress when Mr. King was not 

Mr. King was a member of the Convention for framing 
the federal Constitution. He was present and voted in the 
Convention on the 12th of July, 1787. The whole of that 
day was occupied in settling the proportion of representa- 
tion and direct taxation, which was then determined as it 
now stands in the Constitution, viz., " by adding to the 
whole number of free persons, including those bound to ser- 
vice for a term of years, -and excluding Indians not taxed, 
three-fifths of all other persons. 

The Congress and the Convention were both in session at 
the same time in Philadelphia ; there was of course free in- 
tercourse and interchange of opinion between the members 
of the two bodies. To this may be attributed the adoption 
on the same day, of the clause in the Ordinance and the 
clause in the Constitution.* 

The accompanying copy of the Ordinance shows the 

* An additional reason for the agreement of the Southern 
States to this restriction of slavery, may be found in the fact 
that the institution would not be likely to flourish to any con- 
siderable extent in that climate. They therefore gave up little 
and gained what was far more important to them, a recognition, 
in the article itself, of their right to capture their fugitive 
slaves in that territory — a right they had not before possessed. 
This all occurred prior to the adoption of the present Constitu- 
tion, and seems to have been a compromise of sectional in- 


amendments made in Congress, on the 12th of July to Mr. 
Carrington's report of the 11th. All that was struck out 
is printed in italic, what was inserted ifl in small cai-jtals. 
The reader, on comparing this with the plans previously 
reported by Mr. Jefferson, and by Mr. Johnson, will see 
that most of the principles on which its wisdom and fame 
rest, were first presented by .Mr. Carrington. 

Washington, August 20th, 1847. P. F. 


For the Government of the Territory of the United dUtes 
Northwest of the river Ohio. 

Be it ordained by the United States in Congress assem- 
bled, That the said Territory, for the purposes of tempo- 
rary government, be one district ; subject, however to be 
divided into two districts, as circumstances may in the 
opinion of Congress make it expedient. 

Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That the estates 
both of resident and non-resident proprietors in the said 
territory dying intestate, shall descend to and be distributed 
among their children and the descendants of a deceased 
child in equal parts ; the descendants of a deceased child or 
grandchild to take the share of their deceased parent in 
equal parts among them ; and where there shall be no chil- 
dren or descendants, then in equal parts to the next of kin 
in equal degree ; and among collaterals, the childreu of a 
deceased brother or sister of the intestate shall have in 
equal parts among them their deceased parents' share ; and 

DRED or the whole and half blood ; saving in all cases to 
the widow of the intestate her third part of the real estate 
for life, and [where there shall be no children of the in- 
testate] one-third part of the personal estate ; and this law 
relative to descent and dower shall remain in full force until 
flUered by the legislature of the district. And until the 


Governor and Judges shall adopt laws as hereinafter men- 
tioned, estates in the said territory may be devised or be- 
queathed by wills in writing, signed and sealed by him or 
her, in whom the estate may be (being of full age) and at- 
tested by three witnesses ; and real estates may be conveyed 
by lease and release, or bargain and sale, signed sealed and 
delivered by the person, being of full age, in whom the 
estate may be, and attested by two witnesses, provided such 
wills be duly proved, and such conveyances be acknow- 
ledged, or the execution thereof duly proved, and be 
recorded within one year after proper magistrates, courts, 
and registers shall be appointed for that purpose ; and per- 
sonal property may be transferred by delivery, saving, how- 
ever, to the [inhabitants of Kaskaskies and Post Vincent,'] 
French and Canadian inhabitants, and other settlers 
of the Kaskaskies, Saint Vincent's, and the neigh- 
SELVES citizens of Virginia, their laws and customs now 
in force among them relative to the descent and conveyance 
of property. 

Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That there 
shall be appointed from time to time by Congress, a 
Governor, whose commission shall continue in force for the 
term of three years unless sooner revoked by Congress ; he 
shall reside in the district, and have a freehold estate therein, 
in one thousand acres of land, while in the exercise of his 

There shall be appointed from time to time, by Congress, 
a Secretary, whose commission shall continue in force for 
four years unless sooner revoked; he shall reside in the 
district, and have a freehold estate therein, in five hundred 
acres of land, while in the exercise of his office. It shall be 
his duty to keep and preserve the acts and laws passed by 
the legislature, and the public records of the district, and 
the proceedings of the Governor in his executive depart- 


mcnt, and transmit authentic copies of such acts and pro- 
ceedings every six months to the Secretary of Congress. 
There shall also be appointed a court to consist of three 

judges, any two of whom to form a court, who shall havo 
a common-law jurisdiction, and reside in the district, ami 
have c;ich therein a freehold estate, in live hundred acres of 
land while in the exercise of their offices; and their com- 
missions shall continue in force daring good behavor. 

The Governor and Judges, or a majority of them, shall 
adopt and publish in the district such laws of the original 
States, criminal and civil, as may be necessary and best 
suited to the circumstances of the district, ami report them 
to Congress from time to time, which laws shall be in force 
in the district until the organization of the General Assem- 
bly therein, unless disapproved of by Congress; but after- 
wards the legislature shall have authority to alter them as 
they shall see fit. 

The Governor for the time being, shall be commander in 
chief of the militia, appoint and commission all officers in 
the same below the rank of general officers ; all general 
officers [above that rank'] shall be appointed and commis- 
sioned by Congress. 

Previous to the organization of the General Assembly, 
the Governor shall appoint such magistrates and other civil 
officers, in each county and towuship as he shall find neces- 
sary for the preservation of the peace and good order in the 
same. After the General Assembly shall be organized, the 
powers and duties of magistrates and other civil officers, 
shall be regulated and denned by the said Assembly ; but all 
magistrates and other civil officers not herein otherwise 
directed, shall, during the continuance of this temporary 
government, be appointed by the Governor. 

For the prevention of crime and injuries, the laws, to be 
adopted or made, shall have force in all parts of the district, 
and for the execution of process, criminal and civil, the 



Governor shall make proper division thereof; and he shall 
proceed from time to time as circumstances may require to lay 
out the parts of the district in which the Indian titles shall 
have been extinguished into counties and townships, subject, 
however, to such alterations as may thereafter be made by 
the legislature. 

So soon as there shall be five thousand free male inhabi- 
tants of full age, in the district, upon giving proof thereof 
to the governor, they shall receive authority, with time and 
place to elect Representatives from their counties and town- 
ships to represent them in the General Assembly ; provided 
that, for every five hundred free male inhabitants there shall 
be one representative, and so on progressively with the 
number of free male inhabitants shall the right of represen- 
tation increase until the number of representatives shall 
amount to twenty-five, after which the number and propor- 
tion of representatives shall be regulated by the legislature ; 
provided that no person be eligible or qualified to act as a 
representative unless he shall have been a citizen of one 
of the United States three years and be a resident in the 
district, or unless he shall have resided in the district three 
years, and in either case shall likewise hold in his own right, 
in fee simple, two hundred acres of land within the same. 
Provided also, that a freehold in fifty acres of laud in the 
district, having been a citizen of one of the States, and be- 
ing resident in the district, or the like freehold and two 
years' residence in the district, shall be necessary to qualify 
a man as an elector of a representative. 

The representatives thus elected shall serve for the term 
of two years, and in case of the death of the representative, 
or removal from office, the Governor shall issue a writ to 
the county or .township for which he was a member, to elect 
another in his stead, to serve for the residue of the term. 

The General Assembly or Legislature, shall consist of the 
Governor, Legislative Council and a House of Represen- 


tatives. The Legislative Council shall consist of five mem- 
bers to continue in office live years, unless sooner removed 
by Congress, and three of whom to be a quorum, and the 
members of the Council shall be nominated and appointed in 
the following manner, to wit : As soon as representatives shall 
be elected, the Governor shall appoint a time and place for 
them to meet together, and when met, they shall nominate 
ten persons, residents in the district, and each possessed of a 
freehold in five hundred acres of land, and return their 
names to Congress ; five of whom Congress shall appoint 
and commission to serve as aforesaid, and wheuever a 
vacancy shall happened in the Council, by death or re- 
moval from office, the House of Representatives shall 
nominate two persons, qualified as aforesaid, for each 
vacancy, and return their names to Congress ; one of whom 
Congress shall appoint and commission for the residue of 
the term ; and every five years, four months at least before 
the expiration of the time of service of the members of 
Council the said House shall nominate ten persons, qualified 
as aforesaid, and return their names to Congress, five of 
whom Congress shall appoint and commission to serve as 
members of the Council five years, unless sooner removed. 
And the Governor, Legislative Council and Honse of Re- 
presentatives, shall have authority to make laws in all cases 
for the good government of the district, not repugnant to 
the principles and articles in this Ordinance established and 
declared. And all bills having passed by a majority in the 
House and by a majority in the Council, shall be referred to 
the Governor for his assent ; but no bill or legislative act 
whatever shall be of any force without his assent. The 
Governor shall have power to convene, prorogue, and dis- 
solve the General Assembly, when in his opinion it shall be 

The Governor, Judges, Legislative Council, Secretary, 
and such other officers as Congress shall appoint in the 
district, shall take an oath or affirmation of fidelity and of * 


office, the Governor before the President of Congress, and 
all other officers before the Governor. As soon as a Legis- 
lature shall be formed in the district, the Council and 
House, assembled in one room, shall have authority, by 
joint ballot, to elect a delegate to Congress, who shall have 
a seat in Congress, with a right of debating, but not of 
voting, during this temporary government. 

And for extending [to all parts of the Confederacy'] 
the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty,, 
which form the basis whereon these republics, their laws 
and constitutions, are erected ; to fix and establish those 
principles as the basis of all laws, constitutions, and gov- 
ernments, which forever hereafter shall be formed in the 
said territory ; to provide also for the establishment of 
States and permanent government therein, and for their 
admission to a share in the federal councils, on an equal 
footing with the original States, at as early periods as may 
be consistent with the general interest: 

It is hereby ordained and declared by the authority afore- 
said, That the following articles shall be considered as arti- 
cles of compact between the original States and the people 
and States in the said territory, and forever remain unalter- 
able, unless by common consent, to-wit : 

Article 1. No person, demeaning himself in-a peaceable 
and orderly manner, shall ever be molested on account of 
his mode of worship or religious sentiments in the said 

Article 2. The inhabitants of the said territory shall 
always be entitled to the benefits of the writ of habeas 
corpus and of the trial by jury ; of a proportionate repre- 
sentation of the people in the Legislature, and of judicial 
proceedings according to the course of the common law ; 
all persons shall be bailable, unless for capital offenses, 
where the proof shall be evident or the presumption great; 
all fines shall be moderate, and no cruel or unusual punish- 

17(5 THE ORDINANCE OF 1787. 

mcnts shall bo inflicted ; no man shall be deprived of bis 
liberty or property but by the judgment of his peers, or the 
law of the land; and should the public exigencies make it 
necessary, for the common preservation, to take any per- 
son's property, or to demand his particular services, full 
compensation shall be made for the same ; and, in the just 
preservation of rights and property, it is understood and 
declared that no law ought ever to be made or have force 
in the said territory, that shall in any manner whatever 
interfere with or affect private contracts or engagements, 
bona fide and without fraud previously formed. 

Article 3. [Institutions for the promotion of] reli- 
gion [and] morality, and knowledge, being necessary 


schools and the means of education shall forever be en- 
couraged, \_and all persons while young shall be tauyht 
some useful occupation.'] The utmost good faith shall 
always be observed towards the Indians ; their lands and 
property shall never be taken from them without their con- 
sent ; and in their property, rights, and liberty, they never 
shall be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful 
wars authorized by Congress ; but laws founded in justice 
and humanity shall from time to time be made, for pre- 
venting wrongs being done to them, and for preserving 
peace and friendship with them. 

Article 4. The said territory and the States which 
may be formed therein, shall forever remain a part of this 
confederacy of the United States of America, subject to 
the Articles of Confederation, and to such alterations 
therein as shall be constitutionally made ; and to all the 
acts and ordinances of the United States in Congress 
assembled. The Legislature of those districts, or new 
States, shall never interfere with the primary disposal of 
the soil by the United States in Congress assembled, nor 
with any regulations Congress may find necessary for se- 


curing the title in such soil to bona fide purchasers. No 
tax shall be imposed on lands the property of the United 
States; and in no case shall non-resident proprietors be 
taxed higher than residents. The navigable waters leading 
into the Mississippi and St. Lawrence, and the carrying 
places between the same, shall be common highways, and 
forever free, as well to the inhabitants of the said territory 
as to the citizens of the United States, and those of any 
other States that may be admitted into the confederacy, 
without any tax, impost, or duty therefor. 

Article 5. There shall be formed in the said territory 
not less than three, nor more than five States ; and the 
boundaries of the States, as soon as Virginia shall alter her 
act of cession and {authorize^ consent to the same, shall 
become fixed and established as follows, to wit : The west- 
ern State in the said territory shall be bounded by the 
Mississippi, the Ohio, and Wabash rivers ; a direct line 
drawn from the Wabash and Post Vincent's, due north to 
the territorial line between the United States and Canada, 
and by the said territorial line to the Lake of the Woods 
and Mississippi. The middle State shall be bounded by 
the said direct line, the Wabash from Post Vincent's to 
the Ohio ; by the Ohio, by a direct line drawn due north 
from the mouth of the Great Miami to the said territorial 
line, and by the said territorial line. The eastern State 
6hall be bounded by the last-mentioned direct line, the 
Ohio, Pennsylvania and the said territorial line : Provided, 
however, and it is further understood and declared, that the 
boundaries of these three States, shall be subject so far to 
be altered, that if Congress shall hereafter find it expedient, 
they shall have authority to form one or two States in that 
part of the said territory which lies north of an east and 
west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of 
Lake Michigan ; and whenever any of the said States shall 
have sixty thousand free inhabitants therein, such State 


shall be admitted by its delegates into the Congress of the 
United States, on an equal footing with the original States 
in all rospects whatever; and shall be at liberty to form a 
permanent constitution and State government : Provided 
the constitution and government so to be formed shall be 
republican, and in conformity to the principles contained in 
these articles ; and, so far as it can be consistent with the 
general interest of the confederacy, such admission shall be 
allowed at an earlier period, and when there may be a less 
number of free inhabitants in the State than sixty thousand. 

Article G. There shall be neither slavery nor involun- 
tary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in punish- 
ment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly con- 
victed : Provided always, that any person escaping into the 
same, from w T hom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any 
one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully 
reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her 
labor or service as aforesaid. 

Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That the 
resolutions of the 23d of April, 1784, relative to the subject 
of this ordinance, be and the same are hereby repealed, and 
declared null and void. 

Done by the United States in Congress assembled the 
thirteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord 1T8T, and 
of the sovereignty and independence the twelfth. 





In Congress, Friday, Feb. 12, 1190, the following memo- 
rial of the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the aboli- 
tion of slavery, the relief of free negroes unlawfully held in 
bondage, and the improvement of the condition of the Afri- 
can race, was presented and read.* 

This memorial respectfully showeth, that from a regard 
for the happiness of mankind, an association was formed 
several years since in this State, by a number of her citizens 
of various religious denominations, for promoting the abo- 
lition of slavery, and for the relief of those unlawfully held 
in bondage. A just and acute conception of the true 
principles of liberty as it spread through the land, produced 
accessions to their numbers, many friends of their cause, 
and a legislative co-operation with their views, which by 
the blessing of Divine Providence, have been successfully 
directed to the relieving from bondage a large number of 
their fellow-creatures of the African race. They have also 
the satisfaction to observe, that — in consequence of that 
spirit of philanthropy and genuine liberty which is gener- 
ally diffusing its beneficial influence, — similar institutions 
are forming at home and abroad. 

That mankind are all formed by the same Almighty Be- 
ing, alike objects of his care, and equally assigned for the 

* It will be noticed that this was the first Congress assembled 
under the Constitution, and was the first action taken by that 
body on the subject. 



enjoyment of happiness, the Christian religion teaches us 
to believe ; and the political creed of Americans fully coin- 
cides with the position. Your memorialists, particularly 
engaged in attending to the distresses arising from slavery, 
believe it their indispensable duty to present this subject to 
your notice. They have observed, with real satisfaction, that 
many important and salutary powers are vested in you for 
" promoting the welfare, and securing the blessings of 
liberty to the people of the United States;" and as they con- 
ceive that these blessings ought rightfully to be administered, 
without distinction of color, to all descriptions of people, 
so they indulge themselves in the pleasing expectation that 
nothing which can be done for the relief of the an happy 
objects of their care will be either omitted or delayed. 

From a persuasion that equal liberty was originally the 
portion, and is still the birthright of all men, and influenced 
by the strong ties of humanity, and the principles of their 
institution, your memorialists conceive themselves bound to 
use all justifiable endeavors to loosen the bands of slavery; 
and promote a general enjoyment of the blessings of free- 
dom. Under these impressions, they earnestly entreat your 
serious attention to the subject of slavery. That you will 
be pleased to countenance the restoration of liberty to 
those unhappy men who alone in this land of freedom are 
degraded into perpetual bondage, and who, amidst the 
general joy of surrounding freemen, are groaning in servile 
subjection ; that you will devise means for removing this 
inconsistency from the character of the American people ; 
that you will promote mercy and justice toward this dis- 
tressed race, and that you will step to the very verge of 
the power invested in you for discouraging every species of 
traffic in the persons of our fellow-men. 

The memorial was referred to a special committee. 



The Committee to whom were referred sundry memorials 
from the people called Quakers ; and also a memorial from 
the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the Abolition of 
Slavery, submit the following report : 

That, from the nature of the matters contained in these 
memorials, they were induced to examine the powers vested 
in Congress under the present Constitution, relating to the 
abolition of Slavery, and are clearly of opinion — 

Firstly. That the General Government is expressly re- 
strained from prohibiting the importation of such persons 
"as any of the other States now existing shall think proper 
to admit until the year one thousand eight hundred and 

Secondly. That Congress, by a fair construction of the 
Constitution, is equally restrained from interfering in the 
emancipation of slaves, who already are, or who may, 
within the period mentioned, be imported into, or born 
within, any of the said States. 

Thirdly. That Congress has no authority to interfere in 
the internal regulations of particular States, relative to the 
instruction of slaves in the principles of morality and re- 
ligion ; to their comfortable clothing, accommodations, and 
subsistence ; to the regulation of their marriages, and the 
violation of the rights thereof, or the separation of children 
from their parents ; to a comfortable provision in case of 
sickness, age, or infirmity ; or to the seizure, transportation, 
or sale of free negroes ; but have the fullest confidence in 
the wisdom and humanity of the legislatures of the several 
States ; that they will revise their laws from time to time, 
when necessary, and promote the objects mentioned in the 
memorials, and every other measure that may tend to the 
happiness of slaves. 

Fourthly. That, nevertheless, Congress have authority, 


if they shall think it necessary, to lay at any time • tax or 

duty, not exceeding ten dollars for cadi person of any des- 
cription, the importation of whom shall be DJ any of the 

States admitted as aforesaid. 

Fifthly. That Con g re ss have authority to interdict, or 
(so far as it is or may be carried on by citizens of the 
United States for rappljing foreigners,) to regulate the 

African trade, and to make prorision for the humane treat- 
ment of slaves in all instances while on their passage to the 
United States, or to foreign ports, so far as it respects the 
citizens of the United States. 

Sixthly, That Congress have also authority to prohibit 
foreigners from fitting out reasels in any port of the United 
States, for transporting persons from Africa to any foreign 

Seventhly. That the memorialists he informed that, in 
all cases in which the authority of Con^re>.> extends, they 
will exercise it for the humane object of the memorialists, 
so far as they can be promoted on the principles of justice, 
humanity, and good policy. 


On the Report of the Special Committee preceding. 

March 25, IT 90. The Committee of the whole House, 
to whom was committed the report of the committee on the 
memorials of the people called Quakers, and of the Penn- 
sylvania Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery, 
report the following amendments. 

Strike out the first clause, together with the recital thereto, 
and in lieu thereof, insert, " That the migration or importa- 
tion of such persons as any of the States now existing shall 
think proper to admit, cannot be prohibited by Congress, 
prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight." 

Strike out the second and third clauses, and iu lieu 
thereof, insert " That Congress have no authority to inter- 


fere in the emancipation of slaves or in the treatment of 
them within any of the States ; it remaining with the several 
States alone to provide any regulations therein, which 
humanity and true policy may require." 

Strike out the fourth and fifth clauses, and in lieu thereof, 
insert, " That Congress have authority to restrain the 
citizens of the United States from carrying on the African 
trade, for the purpose of supplying foreigners with slaves ; 
and of providing, by proper regulations, for the humane 
treatment during their passage, of slaves imported by the 
said citizens into the States admitting such importation." 

Strike out the seventh clause. 



Pronouncing the Alien and Sedition Laws to be unconsti* 
tutional, and defining the rights of the States. (Drawn 
by Mr. Madison.) 

Resolved, That the General Assembly of Virginia, doth 
unequivocally express a firm resolution to maintain and de- 
fend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitu- 
tion of this State, against every aggression, either foreign or 
domestic, and that they will support the government of the 
United States in all measures warranted by the former. 

That this Assembly most solemnly declares a warm attach- 
ment to the union of the States, to maintain which it pledges 
its power; and that for this end, it is their duty to watch 
over and oppose every infraction of those principles which 
constitute the only basis of that union, because a faithful 
observance of them can alone secure its existence and the 
public happiness. 

That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily de- 
clare, that it views the powers of the federal government as 
resulting from the compact to which the States are parties, 
as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument 
constituting that compact, as no further valid than they are 
authorized by the grant enumerated in that compact ; and 
that, in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous 
exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, 
the States who are parties thereto, have the right, and are 
in duty bound to interpose, for arresting the progress of 


the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, 
the authorities, rights, and liberties, appertaining to them. 

That the General Assembly doth also express its deepest 
regret, that a spirit has, in sundry instances, been mani- 
fested by the federal government to enlarge its powers by 
forced constructions of the constitutional charter which de- 
fines them : and that indications have appeared of a design 
to expound certain general phrases (which, having been 
copied from the very limited grant of powers in the former 
Articles of Confederation, were the less liable to be mis- 
construed) so as to destroy the meaning and effect of the 
particular enumeration which necessarily explains and limits 
the general phrases, and so as to consolidate the States, by 
degrees, into one sovereignty, the obvious tendency and 
inevitable result of which would be, to transform the pre- 
sent republican system of the United States into an abso- 
lute, or, at best, a mixed monarchy. 

That the General Assembly doth particularly protest 
against the palpable and alarming infractions of the Con- 
stitution, in the two late cases of the " Alien and Sedition 
Acts," passed at the late session of Congress : the first of 
which exercises a power nowhere delegated to the federal 
government, and which, by uniting legislative and judicial 
powers to those of executive subverts the general principle 
of free government, as well as the particular organization 
and positive provisions of the federal Constitution : and 
the other of which acts exercises, in like manner, a power 
not delegated by the Constitution, but, on the contrary, 
expressly and positively forbidden by one of the amend- 
ments thereto — a power, which, more than any other, ought 
to produce universal alarm, because it is leveled against 
the right of freely examining public characters and mea- 
sures, and of free communication among the people 
thereon, which has ever been justly deemed the only effec- 
tual guardian of every other right. 


That this State having, by its Convention, which ratified 
the federal Constitution, expressly declared that,' among 
other essential rights, "the liberty of conscience and the 
press caunot be concealed, abridged, restrained, or modified 
by any authority of the United States," and from its ex- 
treme anxiety to guard these rights from every possible 
attack of sophistry and ambition, having, with other State-, 
recommended an amendment for that purpose, which amend- 
ment was, in due time, annexed to the Constitution, — it 
would mark a reproachful inconsistency, and criminal de- 
generacy, if an indifference were now shown to the most 
palpable violation of one of the rights thus declared and 
secured, and to the establishment of a precedent which may 
be fatal to the other. 

That the good people of this commonwealth, having ever 
felt, and continuing to feel, the most sincere affection for 
their brethren of the other States ; the truest anxiety 
for establishing and perpetuating the union of all, and the 
most scrupulous fidelity to that Constitution, which is the 
pledge of mutual friendship, and the instrument of mutual 
happiness, the General Assembly doth solemnly appeal 
to the like dispositions in the other States, in confidence 
that they will concur with this commonwealth in declaring, 
as it does hereby declare, that the acts aforesaid are uncon- 
stitutional, and that the necessary and proper measures will 
be taken by each for co-operating with this State in main- 
taining unimpaired the authorities, rights, and liberties, re- 
served to the States respectively or to the people. 

That the Governor be desired to transmit a copy of the 
foregoing resolutions to the executive of each of the other 
States, with a request that the same may be communicated 
to the legislature thereof, and that a copy be furnished to 
each of the senators and representatives representing this 
State in the Congress of the United States. 



{Drawn by Mr. Jefferson.) 

i. Resolved, That the several States composing the 
United States of America are not united on the principle 
of unlimited submission to their general government ; but 
that by compact, under the style and title of a Constitution 
for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they 
constituted a general government for special purposes, dele- 
gated to that government certain power, reserving, each 
State to itself, the residuary mass of rights to their own self- 
government, and that whensoever the general government 
assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, 
void, of no force ; that to this compact each State acceded 
as a State, and is an integral party ; that this government, 
created by this compact, was not made the exclusive or final 
judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself, since 
that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitu- 
tion, the measure of its powers ; but that, as in all other 
cas<-s of compact among parties having no common judge, 
each party has an, equal right to judge for itself, as well 
of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress. 

2. Resolved, That the Constitution of the United States 
having delegated to Congress a power to punish treason, 
counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United 
States, piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, 
and offenses against the laws of nations, and no other crimes 
whatever, and it being true, as a general principle, and one 
of the amendments to the Constitution having also declared, 
11 that the powers not delegated to the United States by the 
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved 
to the States respectively or to the people," therefore, also, 
the same act of Congress, passed on the 14th day of July, 
1?98. and entitled "An Act in addition to the Act entitled 
an Act for the punishment of certain crimes against the 


United States ;" as also the act passed by them on the 27th 
day of June, 1798, entitled an Act to punish frauds com- 
mitted on the Bank of the United States, (and all other 
their acts which assume to create, define, or punish crimes 
other than those enumerated in the Constitution,) are alto- 
gether void, and of no force ; and that the power to create, 
define, and punish such other crimes is reserved, and of right 
appertains, solely and exclusively to the respective States, 
each within its own territory. 

3. Resolved, That it is true, as a general principle, and is 
also expressly declared by one of the amendments of the 
Constitution, that " the powers not delegated to the 
United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to 
the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the 
people ;" and that, no power over the freedom of religion, 
freedom of speech, or freedom of the press, being delegated 
to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by 
it to the States, all lawful powers respecting the same did of 
right remain, and were reserved to the States, or to the 
people; that thus was manifested their determination, to 
retain to themselves the right of judging how far the licen- 
tiousness of speech, and of the press, may be abridged with- 
out lessening their useful freedom, and how far those abuses 
which cannot be separated from their use, should be tole- 
rated rather than the use be destroyed ; and thus also they 
guarded against all abridgment, by the United States, of 
the freedom of all religious principles and exercises, and re- 
tained to themselves the right of protecting the same, as 
thus stated, by a law passed on the general demand of its 
citizens, had already protected them from all human re- 
straint or interference, and that, in addition to this general 
principle, and express determination, another and more 
special provision has been made by one of the amendments 
to the Constitution, which expressly declares, that "Con- 
gress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of re- 


ligion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging 
the freedom of speech or the press," thereby guarding in 
the same sentence and under the same words, the freedom 
of religion, of speech, and of the press, insomuch that what- 
ever violates either throws down the sanctuary which covers 
the others, — and that libels, falsehood and defamation, 
equally with heresy and false religion, are withheld from 
the cognizance of federal tribunals. That, therefore, the act 
of the Congress of the United States, passed on the 14th 
of July, 1798, entitled, An Act in addition to the Act en- 
titled an Act for the punishment of certain crimes against 
the United States," which does abridge the freedom of the 
press, is not law, but is altogether void, and of no force. 

4. Resolved, That alien friends are under the jurisdiction 
and protection of the laws of the State wherein they are ; 
that no power over them has been delegated to the United 
States, nor prohibited to the individual States, distinct from 
their power over citizens ; aud it being true as a gene- 
ral principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution 
having also declared, that "the powers not delegated to 
the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to the 
States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the 
people," the Act of the Congress of the United States, 
passed the 22nd day of June, 1198, entitled, " An Act con- 
cerning Aliens," which assumes power over alien friends 
not delegated by the Constitution, is not law, but is alto- 
gether void and of no force. 

5. JResolved, That, in addition to the general principle, 
as well as the express declaration, that powers not dele- 
gated are reserved, another and more special provision, in- 
serted in the Constitution from abundant cautiou, has de- 
clared, " that the migration or importation of such persons 
as any of the States now existing shall think proper to ad- 
mit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the 
year 1808." That this commonwealth does admit the 


migration of alien friends described as the subject of the 
said act concerning aliens, that a provision against prohibi- 
ting their migration is a provision against all acts equiva- 
lent thereto, or it would be nugatory ; that to remove them 
when migrated, is equivalent to a prohibition of their migra- 
tion, and is, therefore, contrary to the said provision of the 
Constitution, and void. 

6. liesolved. That the imprisonment of a person under 
the protection of the laws of this Commonwealth, on his 
failure to obey the simple order of the President to depart 
out of the United States, as is undertaken by the said act, 
entitled, "An Act concerning Aliens," is contrary to the 
Constitution, one amendment in which has provided that 
"no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process 
of law;" and that another having provided, "that, in all 
criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right of a 
public trial by an impartial jury, to be informed as to the 
nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with 
the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for 
obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have assistance of 
counsel for his defense," the same act undertaking to autho- 
rize the President to remove a person out of the United 
States who is under the protection of the law, on his own 
suspicion, without jury, without public trial, without con- 
frontation of the witnesses against him, without having • 
witnesses in his favor, without defense, without counsel, — 
contrary to these provisions also of the Constitution — is 
therefore not law, but utterly void, and of no force. 

That transferring the power of judging any person who is 
under the protection of the laws, from the courts to the 
President of the United States, as is undertaken by the 
same act concerning aliens, is against the article of the 
Constitution which provides "that the judicial power of the 
United States shall be vested in the courts, the judges 
of which shall hold their office during their good behavior," 


and that the said act is void for that reason also ; and it is 
further to be noted that this transfer of judiciary power is 
to that magistrate of the general government who already 
possesses all the executive and a qualified negative on all 
the legislation. 

f. Besolved, That the construction applied by the 
general government (as is evident by sundry of their 
proceedings) to those parts of the Constitution of the 
United States which delegate to Congress power to lay 
and collect taxes, duties, imposts, excises, to pay the debts, 
and provide for the common defense and general welfare, 
of the United States, and to make all laws which shall be 
necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers 
vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United 
States, or any department thereof, goes to the destruction 
of all the limits prescribed to their power by the Constitu- 
tion ; that words meant by that instrument to be subsidiary 
only to the execution of the limited powers, ought not to be 
so construed as themselves to give unlimited powers, nor a 
part so to be taken as to destroy the whole residue of the 
instrument ; that the proceedings of the general government 
under color of these articles, will be a fit and necessary sub- 
ject for revisal and correction at a time of greater tran- 
quillity, while those specified in the preceding resolutions 
call for immediate redress. 

8. Besolved, That the preceding resolutions be trans- 
mitted to the senators and representatives in Congress from 
this commonwealth, who are enjoined to present the same 
to their respective houses, and to use their best endeavors 
to procure, at the next session of Congress, a repeal of the 
aforesaid unconstitutional and obnoxious acts. 

9. Besolved, lastly, That the governor of this common- 
wealth be, and is, authorized and requested to communicate 
the preceding resolutions to the legislatures of the several 
States, to assure them that this commonwealth considers 


union for special national purposes, and particularly for 
those specified in their late federal compact, to be friendly 
to the peace, happiness, and prosperity of all the States ; 
that, faithful to that compact, according to the plain in- 
tent and meaning in which it was understood and acceded 
to by the several parties, it is sincerely anxious for its 
preservation ; that it does also believe that, to take from 
the States all the powers of self-government, and transfer 
them to a general and consolidated government, without 
regard to the special government and reservations solemnly 
agreed to in that compact, is not for the peace, happiness, 
or prosperity of these States ; and that, therefore, this com- 
monwealth is determined, as it doubts not its co-States are, 
to submit to undelegated and consequently unlimited pow- 
ers in no man, or body of men, on earth ; that, if the acts 
before specified should stand, these conclusions would flow 
from them, — that the general government may place any 
act they think proper on the list of crimes, and punish it 
themselves, whether enumerated or not enumerated by the 
Constitution as recognized by them ; that they may transfer 
Us cognizance to the President, or any other person, who 
may himself be the accuser, counsel, judge, and jury, whose 
suspicions may be evidence, his order the sentence, his offi- 
cer the executioner, and his breast the sole record of the 
transaction ; that a very numerous and valuable description 
of the inhabitants of these States, being by this precedent 
reduced, as outlaws, to the absolute dominion of one man, 
and the barriers of the Constitution thus swept from us all, 
no rampart now remains against the passion and the power 
of a majority of Congress to protect from a like exporta- 
tion, or other grievous punishment, the minority of the 
same body, the legislatures, judges, governors, and counsel- 
lors of the State, nor their peaceable inhabitants, who may 
venture to reclaim the constitutional rights and liberties of 
the States and people, or who, for other causes, good or 


bad, may be obnoxious to the view, or marked by the sus- 
picions, of the President, or thought dangerous to his elec- 
tions, or other interests, public or personal ; that the friend- 
less alien has been selected as the safest subject of a first 
experiment ; but the citizen will soon follow, or rather has 
already followed ; for already has a Sedition Act marked 
him as a prey ; that these and successive acts of the same 
character, unless arrested on the threshold, may tend to 
drive these States into revolution and blood, and will fur- 
nish new calumnies against republican governments, and 
new pretexts for those who wish it to be believed that man 
cannot be governed but by a rod of iron ; that it would be 
a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our 
choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights ; that 
confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism ; free 
government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence ; 
it is jealousy, not confidence, which prescribes limited con- 
stitutions to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust 
with power; that our Constitution has accordingly fixed 
the limits to which, and no farther, our confidence may go ; 
and let the honest advocate of confidence read the Alien and 
Sedition Acts, and say if the Constitution has not been 
wise in fixing limits to the government it created, and 
whether we should be wise in destroying those limits ; let 
him say what the government is, if it be not a tyranny, 
which the men of our choice have conferred on the Presi- 
dent, and the President of our choice has assented to and 
accepted, over the friendly strangers to whom the mild 
spirit of our country and its laws had pledged hospitality 
and protection ; that the men of cur choice have more re- 
spected the base suspicions of the President, than the solid 
rights of ignorance, the claims of justification, the sacred 
force of truth, and the forms and substance of law and 
In questions of power, then, let no more be said of con- 


fidcncc in man, but bind him down from mischief by the 
chains of the Constitution. That this commonwealth does 
therefore call ou its co- States for an expression of their 
sentiments on the acts concerning aliens, and for the pun- 
ishment of certain crimes herein before specified, plainly 
declaring whether these acts are or are not authorized by 
the federal compact. And it doubts not that their sense 
will be so announced as to prove their attachment to limited 
government, whether general or particular, and that the 
rights and liberties of their co-States will be exposed to no 
dangers by remaining embarked on a common bottom with 
their own ; but they will concur with this commonwealth 
in considering the said acts as so palpably against the Con- 
stitution as to amount to an undisguised declaration, that 
the compact is not meant to be the measure of the powers 
of the general government, but that it will proceed in the 
exercise over these States of all powers whatever ; that they 
will vicw-ihis as seizing the rights of the States, and con- 
solidating them in the hands of the general government, 
with a power assumed to bind the States, not merely in 
cases made federal, but in all cases whatsoever, by laws 
made, not with their consent, but by others against their 
consent ; that this would be to surrender the form of gov- 
ernment we have chosen, and live under one deriving its 
powers from its own will, and not from our authority ; and 
that the co-States, recurring to their natural rights not 
made federal, will concur in declaring them void and of no 
force, and will each unite with this commonwealth in re- 
questing their repeal at the next session of Congress. 



In December, 1818, Congress received a petition from the 
legislature of the territory asking admission into the Union. 
On the 19th February, 1819, while the bill was under dis- 
cussion for the admission, an amendment was offered "pro- 
viding that the further introduction of slavery, or involun- 
tary servitude be prohibited in said State." Adopted, 87 
to 76 votes in the House. Another amendment, "That all 
children born in said State, after admission thereof, shall be 
free after the age of twenty-five years." Adopted, 79 to 67. 
The Senate struck out this amendment, 22 to 16. Each 
House adhered obstinately to its position and the bill was 

At the next session Mr. Taylor of New York offered a 
resolution raising a committee to report " a bill prohibiting 
the further admission of slaves into the territory west of the 
Mississippi." This proposition was postponed. In the 
mean time, a bill was introduced for the admission of 
Maine into the Union, which passed the House. The 
Senate tacked a section admitting Missouri to the Maine 
bill. On the 18th January, 1820, Mr. Thomas of Illi- 
nois introduced in the Senate the celebrated slavery re- 
striction, excluding slavery forever from all territory north 
of 36° 30' north latitude. After an exciting debate it was 
referred to a select committee. The motion to exclude 
slavery from Missouri was lost in the Senate, 16 to 27. 

On the 17th February, Mr. Thomas's amendment, ex- 
cluding slavery from the territory north of 36° 30' passed 



the Senate, Ayes 34 ; Noes 10. It was moved in the 
House by Mr. Storrs of New York. The bill for the ad- 
mission of both Maine and Missouri, with the restriction of 
slavery in territories West, in lieu of applying it to the State, 
then passed the Senate. Mr. Macon of North Carolina, and 
Mr. Smith of South Carolina, being the only Southern 
Senators that voted against it. The House subsequently 
agreed to the Senate bill by a vote of 134 to 42, and thus 
ended the agitation for that session. The restriction thus 
engrafted upon the territorial law was repealed in the 
Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 ; but was not, as will be 
seen, and as has been generally understood by the people, 
a part of Mr. Clay's Compromise, by which Missouri was 
finally admitted into the Union. 

At the session of 1821, Missouri presented her Consti- 
tution to Congress. It contained a clause excluding free 
colored people from the State. The question was at once 
raised, that her Constitution was not republican in form, 
as required by the Constitution of the United States. The 
Senate voted to admit and the House refused. Committees 
of conference were appointed, of which Mr. Clay was chair- 
man in the House, and Mr. Holmes of Maine, in the 
Senate. On the 26th of February, 1821, Mr. Clay, from 
the Joint Committee, reported a resolution for the admis- 
sion of Missouri, upon condition that the clause in her Con- 
stitution prohibiting free negroes from coming into or re-, 
maining in the State, should never be construed to autho- 
rize the passage of any law by which any citizen of any 
other State should be excluded from any privileges to which 
such citizen is entitled under the Constitution of the United 
States. This resolution passed the House the same day by 
a vote of 87 to 31. 

The resolution was called up in the Senate on the 27th, 
and finally passed in that body on the 28th of February, 
1821, by a vote of 28 to 14. Missouri accepted the con- 


dition imposed by the resolution of Mr. Clay, and on the 
10th of August, 1821, President Monroe issued his procla- 
mation declaring the admission of Missouri complete ac- 
cording to law. This resolution of Mr. Clay was, properly 
speaking, the Missouri Compromise, aud of itself had 
nothing to do, whatever, with the question of slavery in 
the territories. That question had been settled nearly a 
year prior to the passage of this resolution, under which 
that State became a member of the confederacy. 

For the purpose of showing what the doctrine of the 
Southern States, and of that party in the North that acted 
with the South in that struggle, was upon the subject of 
the power of Congress to restrict slavery in the territories, 
we make the following extracts from the speeches of those 
most prominent in that debate, North and South. The 
reader will of course understand, that those who advocated 
the power of restriction in Congress, used, necessarily, the 
same arguments that are used at the present time upon that 
subject. It is only in reference to what was, at that time, 
claimed as the national view of the slavery question, that 
we compile this chapter ; and, in compiling it, we have 
sought to give the opinion of those who, from their position 
and talents, may be fairly supposed to have reflected that 
view at that day. Some of the extracts refer to the State 
restriction, which was abandoned, but most are upon the 
amendment of Mr. Thomas, of the Senate, introduced in 
the House by Mr. Storrs, of New York, involving the con- 
stitutional power of Congress to prohibit slavery in the 
territories. This was the first debate ever had in Congress 
upon the subject. 

January 26, 1821. The Bill for the admission of Mis- 
souri into the Union being under consideration, Mr. Storrs, 
of New York, offered the following proviso : 

"And provided further, and it is hereby enacted, That, 
forever hereafter, neither slavery nor involuntary servitude* 


(except in the punishment of crimes, whereof the party 
shall have been duly convicted,) shall exist in the territory 
of the Uuited States, lying north of the 38th degree of 
north latitude, and west of the river Mississippi, and the 
boundaries of the State of Missouri, as established by this 
act: Provided, That any person escaping into the said 
territory, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed, in 
any of the States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed, 
and conveyed, according to the laws of the United States 
in such case provided, to the person claiming his or her 
labor or service as aforesaid." 

Mr. Meigs, of New York, said : — It is now at least 
twenty years, that I have, with some pain and apprehension, 
remarked the increasing spirit of local and sectional envy 
and dislike between the North and South. A continued 
series of sarcasms upon each other's circumstances, modes of 
living, and manners, so foolishly }>ersevered in, has produced 
at length that keen controversy which now enlists us in masses 
against each other on the opposite sides of the line of latitude. 

Gentlemen may dignify it by whatever titles they please. 
They may flatter themselves that all is logic, reason, pure 
reason. But certain I am, that it is neither more nor less 
than sectional feeling. 

Feeling, sir, however gravely dignified, has brought us in 
hostility to this singular line of combat, and we, who are, 
you know sir, "but children of a larger growth," are now 
most aptly comparable to those celebrated and eternal 
factions of "Up -Town and Down -Town Boys." I put 
this observation to every one who hears me, with the wish 
that he may apply his own recollections and reflections 
to it. 

Gentlemen may exhaust all their arguments, all their 
eloquence upon the question before us ; they may pour ont 
every flower of rhetoric upon it ; but, sir, I view their 
labors as wholly vain, and I fear that their flowers will be 


found to be the most deleterious and the most poisonous in 
the whole range of botany. They poison the national 

Reason divided by parallels of latitude ! Why, sir, it is 
easy for prejudice and malevolence, by aid of ingenuity, to 
erect an eternal, impenetrable wall of brass between the 
North and South, at the latitude of thirty-nine degrees ! 
But, in the view of reason, there is no other line between 
them than that celestial arc of thirty-nine degrees which 
offers no barrier to the march of liberal and rational men. 

It is forgotten that the enlightened high priest, the 
archbishop of one belligerent, goes to the temple of the 
Almighty and chants " Te Deum laudamus," for the vic- 
tory obtained by his country, with carnage and devastation, 
over the enemy ; while the archbishop of another bellige- 
rent is at the same time entering the house of God, and 
singing also, " Te Deum laudamus pro victoria,'' 1 upon 
the other side of the line, the creek, or the. river ? "We, 
who know these things, should profit by our knowledge, 
learn liberality, and practice it. It is true, and I glory in 
the knowledge of the truth, that in matters of religion, this 
country has, in its constitutions, attained a high point of 
reason and liberality. 

Men, after forty or sixty years of religious intolerance, 
here, at last, may worship the Creator in their own way. 
What a privilege ! how dearly acquired 1 how much to be 
prized ! It fills us with astonishment, when we reflect how 
hard it is for us to refrain from forcing by power our 
opinions upon our brother men ! how readily each indivi- 
dual imagines that the light is alone in his own breast, and 
how enthusiastically he engages in propagating it among 
mankind by all possible means, fancying, dreaming that he 
is a prophet, a vicegerent of Almighty God. 

January 27, 1830. Mr. Holmes, of Massachusetts, rose 
and spoke as follows : — Mr. Chairman : When a man is 


fallen into distress, his neighbors surround him to offer re« 
lief. Some, by an attempt at condolence, increase the grief 
which they would assuage; others, by administering reme- 
dies, inflame the disorder; while others, affecting all the 
solicitude of both, actually wish him dead. It is so with 
liberty. Always in danger — often in distress — she not only 
suffers from open Mid secret foes, but officious and unskillful 
friends. And among the thousands and millions that throng 
her temple from curiosity or policy, how few — very few — 
there are, who are her sincere, faithful, and intelligent wor- 
shipers ? Among these few, I trust, are to be found all 
the advocates for restriction in this House. And I readily 
admit, that most of those out of doors, whose zeal is excited 
on this occasion, are of the same description. 

But is it not probable that there are some Jugglers behind 
the screen who are playing a deeper game — who are com- 
bining to rally under this standard, ai the last resort, the 
forlorn hope of an expiring party. But while we admit 
this in behalf of the respectable gentlemen who advocate the 
restriction of slavery in Missouri, we ask, may we demand 
of them the same liberality. We are not the advocates or 
the abettors of slavery. 

For one, sir, I would rejoice if there was not a slave on 
earth. Liberty is the object of my love — my adoration. I 
would extend its blessings to every human being. But, 
though my feelings are strong for the abolition of slavery, 
they are yet stronger for the Constitution of my country. 
And, if I am reduced to the sad alternative to tolerate the 
holding of slaves in Missouri or violate the Constitution of 
my country, I will not admit a doubt to cloud my choice. 

Sir, of what benefit would be abolition, if at a sacrifice 
of your Constitution ? Where would be the guarantee of 
the liberty which you grant ? Liberty has a temple here, 
and it is the only one which remains. Destroy this, and she 


must flee — she must retire among the brutes of the wilder- 
ness — to mourn and lament the misery and folly of man. 

The proposition for the consideration of the committee is. 
to abolish slavery in Missouri, as a condition of her admis- 
sion into the Union. 

This Constitution, which I hold in my hand, I am sworn 
to support, not according to legislative or judicial exposi- 
tion, but as I shall understand it ; not as private interest or 
public zeal may urge, but as I shall believe ; not as I may 
wish it, but as it is. 

I have carefully examined this Constitution, and I can 
find no such power. I have looked it through, and I am 
certain it is not in the book. 

This power is not express, and if given at all, it must be 

This amplifying power by construction is dangerous, and 
will, not improbably, effect the eventual destruction of the 

That there are resulting or implied powers, I am not dis- 
posed to deny ; but they are only where the powers are 
subordinate and the implication necessary. 

All powers not granted are prohibited, is a maxim to 

which we cannot too religiously adhere. 

* * * * * * 

How comes it that Congress can prohibit a transfer of a 
slave from one State to another, and under this power to 
regulate commerce, when they are expressly forbidden to 
compel a vessel bound from one State to enter, clear, nor pay 
duties, in that of another ? If Congress has this power 
under this clause in the Constitution, then slaves are to be 
prohibited as commerce. 

And, sir, where is the authority to prohibit the transfer 
of an article of commerce from State to State ? A man 
leaves a State to go into another with his family, slaves f 
cattle, and implements of husbandry, to clear up and cultl 


vate a farm or plantation. His object is exclusively agri- 
cultural. He is met at the line by a law of Congress, and 
his slaves aro stopped under the authority to regulate 
commerce ! 

When under this power, you shall have loceedfd in 
proving the extravagant and untenable position that Con- 
gress can prohibit this transfer, how do you arrive at the 
conclusion, that you can pass this act of abolition which the 
amendment proposes ? 

There are two powers grown out of that to regulate com- 
merce. And preserve your gravity while I repeat, one of 
them is to prohibit a transfer of slaves from State to State, 
and the other to abolish slavery in Missouri, as a condition 
of her admission into the Union. 

* * * * * * 

Sir, I trust enough has been said to prove that this clause 
gives no authority to prohibit a transfer of slaves from one 
State to another ; and if it did, it has nothing to do with 
the question. Sir, it is a new doctrine, and allow me to 
add, it is an alarming doctrine. Let me ask the gentleman 
from New York a question, and I will do it with that con- 
fidence which friendship inspires. With the suggestion that 
the Declaration of Independence is an act of general eman- 
cipation, and with this doctrine, that Congress may confine 
the slaves within the limits of the respective States, let the 
four hundred thousand slaves of Virginia be transferred to 
New York, and what would be his feelings ? [Here Mr. 
Taylor rose, and disclaimed having advanced that the 
Declaration of Independence had any effect to emancipate 
the slaves.] 

Sir, I have not said that that gentleman did advance 
such a doctrine. 

I stated that such an opinion had been advanced, and 
from high authority. 

And I again appeal to the candor of that gentleman, 


and ask him, whether he should feel entirely easy if the slaves 
of Virginia were shut up in New York, under this power 
which he advocates, and if it had come to their ears from 
any respectable source that they were all free ? 

Would he not be inclined to doubt the constitutionality 
or policy of such a law ? 

Confine the slaves in the old slaveholding States, where 
they are most numerous ; the constant emigration of the 
whites will soon bring them to an equality with their slaves. 
Emigration will increase with the danger, and murder and 
massacre will succeed. 

And yet, we can look on and see this storm gathering — 
hear its thunders, and witness its lightnings, with great 
composure, with wonderful philosophy ! 

We are aware, gentlemen, that we are diffusing senti- 
ments which endanger your safety, happiness, and lives ; 
nay, more, the safety, happiness, and lives of those whom 
you value more than your own. 

But it is a constitutional question. 

Keep cool. We are conscious that we are inculcating 
doctrines that will result in spilling the best of your blood, 
but as this blood will be spilled in the cause of humanity, 
keep cool. 

We have no doubt that the promulgating of these prin- 
ciples will be the means of cutting your throats; but, as it 
will be done in the most unexceptionable manner possible, by 
your slaves, who will no doubt perform the task in great 
style and dexterity, and with much d^Jicacy and humanity, 
too, therefore keep cool. 

Sir, speak to the wind, command the waves, expostulate 
with the tempest, rebuke the thunder, but never ask an 
honorable man thus circumstanced to suppress his feelings. 

But, sir, I beg pardon for this digression ; it is aside 
from my purpose. 

My object is not declamation, but reason. 


January^. — Mr. Smyth, of Virginia, addressed the Chair. 
lie said that the constitutionality of the measure proposed 
was the subject which he intended first to consider. The legis- 
lative power of every State is originally eo-eztensi?e. Each 
State, by the Constitution, commits an equal portion of its 
legislative powers to Congress, and all the residue is re- 
eerved to the States, unless prohibited to them or to tho 
people. The only powers of this government are given by 
the Constitution. 

The powers granted are to be exerciaed over every State ; 
and the powers reserved are retained by every State. 

In Pennsylvania and in Virginia, the power to legislate 
respecting slavery is in the legislature. In Ohio nnd Indi- 
ana that power IS in the people, who have denied it to their 
legislatures. No power has been delegated to Congress to 
legislate on that subject. 

The Constitution provides that, "the powers not dele- 
gated to the Uuited States by the Constitution, nor pro- 
hibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States re- 
spectively, or to the people." The powers not delegated 
being reserved to the States, respectively, are reserved to 
each of the States, whether new or old. 

Has the power to legislate over slavery been delegated 
to the United States ? It has not. 

Has it been prohibited to the States ? It has not. 

Then it is reserved to the States respectively, or to the 
people. Consequently, it is reserved to the State of Mis- 
souri, or to the people of that State. And any attempt by 
Congress to deprive them of this reserved power, will be 
unjust, tyrannical, unconstitutional, and void. 

The only condition that may constitutionally be annexed 
to the admission of a new State into this Union is that it3 
constitution shall be republican. 

This the Constitution authorizes us to require, and it ia 
the only condition that is necessary. We possess power te 


make all needful regulations respecting the territorial pro- 
perty of the United States. 

Our acts in pursuance of the Constitution are paramount 
to the laws of any State. 

When we pursue our constitutional authority, we need no 
aid from stipulations ; and when we exceed it, our acts are 
acts of usurpation, and void. 

It has been questioned by some, whether a constitu- 
tion can be said to be republican which does not exclude 

But we must understand the phrase " republican form of 
government," as the people understood it when they adopted 
the Constitution. We are bound by the construction which 
was put upon the Constitution by the people. It would 
be perfidious toward them to put on the Constitution a 
different construction from that which induced them to 
adopt it. 

The people of each of the States who adopted the Con- 
stitution, except Massachusetts, owned slaves, yet they cer- 
tainly considered their own constitutions to be republican. 

And the federal government has not, by virtue of its 
power to guarantee a republican constitution to each State 
in the union, required a change of the constitution of any 
one of those States. 

The Constitution recognizes the right to the slave pro- 
perty, and it thereby appears that it was intended by the 
Convention and by the people that that property should be 

The representation of each State in this House is propor- 
tioned by the whole number of free persons and three-fifths 
of the number of the slaves. In forming the Constitution, 
the Southern States, Virginia excepted, insisted on and 
obtained a provision, authorizing them to import slaves for 
twenty years. 

And the Constitution provides that slaves running away 

200 the msaouBi qfestion. 

from their masters in one State and going into another, 
shall be delivered up to their masters. 

To render this right, with other rights, still more secure, 
Virginia, in adopting the Constitution, declared that "no 
right of any denomination can be canceled, abridged, re- 
strained, or modified, BZC6pt in those instances in which 
power is given by the Constitution for those purposes ;" 
and New York declared that " every power, jurisdiction, 
and right, which is not by the said Constitution clearly 
delegated to the Congress of the United States, remains to 
the people of the several States, or to their respective State 
governments. w Several of the other States made similar 

But the States were not content to declare their rights. 
An amendment to the Constitution declares that, " The 
powers not delegated to the United States by the Consti- 
tution, nor prohibited by it to the State<, are reserved to 
the States respectively, or to the people." The right to 
own slaves being acknowledged and secured by the Con- 
stitution, can you proscribe what the Constitution guaran- 
tees ? Can you touch a right reserved to the States or 

the people ? You cannot ! 

If you possessed power to legislate concerning slavery, 
the adoption of the proposition on your table, which goes 
to emancipate all children of slaves hereafter born in Mis- 
souri, would be a direct violation of the Constitution, which 
provides that "no person shall be deprived of property 
without due process of law ; nor shall private property be 
taken for public use, without just compensation. n 

If you cannot take property even for public use, without 
just compensation, you certainly have not power to take it 
away for the purpose of annihilation, without compensa- 
tion. And if you cannot take away that which is in exis- 


tence, you cannot take away that which will come into exis- 
tence hereafter. If you cannot take away the land, you 
cannot take the future crops ; and if you cannot take the 
slaves, you cannot take their issue, who, by the laws of 
slavery, will be also slaves. You cannot force the people 
to give up their property. You cannot force a portion of 
the people to emancipate their slaves. 

5JC JfC 3JC 3JC 3fC 3JC 

All legitimate power proceeds from the people. And 
although an illegitimate power may be imposed by force and 
submitted to from necessity, it cannot bind the people 
longer than the force and necessity are present. Such was 
the power which the British Parliament exercised before 
the Revolution over these then colonies ; and such was the 
power asserted by the Congress of 1 78T over the North- 
western territory. 

But, as the declaration of the British Parliament, that 
they had power to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever, 
does not bind the people of these States ; so the Ordinance 
of 1787 docs not bind the people of Ohio any longer than 
they please to submit to it. 

It was an act of illegitimate power ; and it cannot bind 
those who are the source of all legitimate power. 

It is even doubtful whether the Ordinance was duly 
passed. By the Articles of Confederation, the concurrence 
of nine States was necessary to important transactions. 
The power exercised was not given ; and of the powers 
which were given, those of making appropriations and 
treaties most resemble the power exercised. It was neces- 
sary that nine States should concur in exercising either of 
these powers. Only eight States were present and concui- 
ing in passing this Ordinance. 

It has been said that the restriction on the introduction 
of slavery northwest of the Ohio river was proposed by 
Virginia, and that the Southern States unanimously agreed 


to it. This is said to fix the chancier of inconsistency on 
Virginia. The fact is, that Virginia and the Southern 
States voted for the whole ordinance, when completed ; but 
it is also true that those States had repeatedly voted against 
the clause excluding slavery. In April, 1784, a vote was 
taken on this clause, when Maryland, Virginia, and South 
Carolina voted against it; North Carolina divided, and 
Georgia absent. And although seven States voted for the 
clause, it was rejected ; a proof that Congress then con- 
ceived that the concurrence of nine States was necessary to 
every clause of this Ordinance ; which they called a "com- 

In March, 1785, Mr. King proposed a similar clause; 
Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, 
voted against it ; eight States voted for the commitment of 
it, and it was committed. The member from Virginia; 
(Mr. Grayson,) to whom the measure is ascribed, was not 
a member of Congress in 1784. 

My honorable friend from Massachusetts (Mr. Holmes) 
was mistaken, when he supposed that Congress of 1787, 
was bound by the Ordinance of 1784, which did not ex- 
clude slavery from the Northwestern Territory. 

They would have been bound, had any part of the land 
in Ohio been sold, not to change the Ordinance of 1784, 
without the consent of Ohio. But no point of the land was 
sold, previous to the passage of the Ordinance on the 13th 
July, 1787. 

I have examined that matter carefully, and am unwilling 

that the committee should be under any erroneous impressions 

that I can remove. 

It has been said that the Constitution vests in Congress 
a power to make all needful regulations respecting the ter- 
ritory of the United States ; and this power, it is supposed 
authorizes us to exclude slaves from the territories of the 


United States, and also to demand from any of those ter- 
ritories about to become States, a stipulation for the ex- 
clusion of slaves. 

The clause of the Constitution referred to, reads thus : 
". The Congress shall have power to dispose of, and make 
all needful rules and regulations respecting, the territory 
or other property belonging to the United States." It has 
been contended that this gives a power of legislation over 
persons and private property within the territories of the 
United States. 

The clause obviously relates to the territory belonging to 
the United States, as property only. The power given is 
to dispose of, and make all needful regulations respecting, 
the territorial property, or other property of the United 
States ; and Congress has power to pass all laws neces- 
sary and proper to the exercise of that power. This clause 
speaks of the territory as property, as a subject of sale. 
It speaks not of the jurisdiction. 

This clause, as first proposed in Convention, read thus : 
"To dispose of the unappropriated lands of the United 
States; to institute temporary governments for new States 
arising therein." The latter power was not granted. (See 
Journal Convention, page 260.) 

That the Convention considered as being provided for by 
the Ordinance of Congress. This clause contains no grant 
of power to legislate over persons and private property 
within a territory. 

A power to dispose of, and make all needful regulations 
respecting the property of the United States, is very dif- 
ferent from a power to legislate over the persons and the 
property of the people. When it was the intention of the 
Convention that the Constitution should convey to Congress 
power to legislate over persons and private property, they 
expressed themselves in terms not doubtful. 


Thus they said, "Congress shall have power to exercise 
exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever," within the 
ten miles square. 

But no such power to legislate over the territories is 

The power is, to dispose of, and make all needful regula- 
tions respecting the property of the United States. 

When that is sold and conveyed, it ceases to he an ohject 
of the power to make regulations respecting the property 
of United States ; and if the construction contended for by 
our opponents be correct, and Congress possesses power to 
legislate for a territory, that would not authorize them to 
make regulations which shall continue in force when the ter- 
ritory became a State, and the United States ceased to own 

property therein. 

* * * * * * * 

Suppose that a general emancipation was to take place, 
and the two people were to co-mingle, what would be the 
effect on the character of your country throughout the 
civilized world ? Would you be willing that your nation 
should become a nation of mulattoes, and be considered on 
a level with Hayti ? Are the two races equal ? If so, 
how is it that that the race of whites has produced so 
many civilized nations in ancient and modern times, and the 

race of African negroes not one. 

* * * * * * * 

As the emancipation of the present race of blacks in this 
country cannot be effected, the tendency of the popular 
meetings, resolutions, pamphlets, and newspaper publica- 
tions, respecting this question, merit notice and exposition. 
The philosophers, the abolition societies, and societies of 
friends to the negroes, in Europe, who were not at all inter- 
ested in negro slavery themselves, produced the catastrophe 
of St. Domingo. The philanthropists, societies, and popular 
meetings of the North, are pursuing a similar course. 


Like causes produce like effects. 

Our philanthropists may acquire as good a title to the 
execrations of the Southern people as Robespierre and 
Gregoire acquired to the execrations of the French people 
of St. Domingo. 

February 1. Mr. Reid, of Georgia, said : Sir, the 
slaves of the South are held to a service which, unlike that 
of the ancient villain, is certain and moderate. 

They are well supplied with food and raiment. 

They are "content and careless of to-morrow's fare." 

The lights of our religion shine as well for them as for 
their masters ; and their rights of personal security, guar- 
anteed by the Constitution and the laws, are vigilantly pro- 
tected by the courts. It is true, they are often made sub- 
ject to wanton acts of tyranny ; but this is not their pecu- 
liar misfortune ! For, search the catalogue of crimes, and 
you will find that man — the tyrant — is continually preying 
upon his fellow-men ; there are as many white as black vic- 
tims to the vengeful passion and the lust of power! Be- 
lieve me, sir, I am not the panegyrist of slavery. It is an 
unnatural state ; a dark cloud which obscures half the lustre 
of our free institutions ! But it is a fixed evil, which we 
can only alleviate. 

Are we called upon to emancipate our slaves ? I an- 
swer, their welfare, the safety of our citizens, forbid it. Can 
we incorporate them with us, and make them and us one 
people ? The prejudices of the North and of the South 
rise up in equal strength against such a measure ; and even 
those who clamor most loudly for the sublime doctrines of 
your Declaration of Independence, who shout in your ears 
" all men are by nature equal," would turn with abhorrence 
and disgust from a parti-colored progeny ! Shall we then 
be blamed for a state of things to which we are obliged to 
submit ? Would it be fair, would it be manly, would it be 
generous, would it be just, to offer contumely and contempt 


to the unfortunate man who wean a cancer in his bosom, 
because lie will not submit to cautery at the hazard of his 
existence ? For my own part, surrounded by slavery from 
my cradle to the present moment, I yet 

"Hate the touch of servile hands ; 

I loathe the slaves who cringe around ;" 

and I would hail that day as the most glorious in its dawn- 
ing which should behold, with safety to themselves and our 
citizens, the black population of the United States placed 
upon the high eminence of equal rights, and clothed in the 
privileges and immunities of American citizens ! "But this 
is a dream of philanthropy which can never be fulfilled ; 
and whoever shall act in this country upon such wild theo- 
ries, shall cease to be a benefactor, and become a destroyer 
of the human family. 

It is said, however, to be high time to check the progress 
of this evil, and that this may be best done by inhibiting 
slavery beyond the Mississippi, and in Missouri, which 
prays to be admitted as a State into the Union. It is im- 
portant to consider if this project be consistent with the 
Constitution of the United States. 

The States formed the Constitution in the capacity of 
sovereign and independent States, and the Constitution is 
the instrument by which they conveyed certain power to the 
general government. This is evident, not only from the 
nature of the government formed, and in every line of the 
Constitution, but it is a doctrine distinctly asserted in the 
ninth and tenth articles of the amendments. " The enume- 
ration, in the Constitution, of certain rights shall not be 
construed to deny or disparage others retained by the 
people ; and the powers not delegated to the United 
States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the 
States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the 
people. ,, Hence it will follow, that the several States re- 


tain every power not delegated by the Constitution to the 
general government ; or, in other words, that in all enume- 
rated cases, the several States are left in the full enjoyment 
of their sovereign and independent jurisdictions. 

3j» 5JC 5|C 5fC 3f€ 5JC 3|C ^ 

But it is argued that Congress has ever imposed restric- 
tions upon new States, and no objection has been urged 
until this moment. 

If it be true, that only one condition can constitutionally 
be imposed, it would seem that any other is null and void, 
and may be thrown off by the State at pleasure. 

And then this argument, the strength of which is in prece- 
dent, cannot avail. 

Uniformity of decision for hundreds of years cannot make 
that right which at first was wrong. 

If it were otherwise, in vain would science and the arts 
pursue their march toward perfection ; in vain the constant 
progress of truth ; in vain the new and bright lights which 
are daily finding their way to the human mind, like the 
rays of the distant stars, which, passing onward from the 
creation of time, are said to be continually reaching our 

Malus usus abolendus est. When error appears, let her 
be detected and exposed, and let evil precedents be abol- 

It is true that the old Confederation, by the 6th section 
of the Ordinance of 1187, inhibited slavery in the territory 
northwest of the Ohio, and that the States of Illinois, Ohio, 
and Indiana, have been introduced into the Union under 
this restriction. 

Sir, the Ordinance of 1787 had an origin perfectly worthy 
of the end it seems destined to accomplish. It had no au- 
thority in the Articles of Confederation, which did not 
contemplate, with the exception of Canada, the acquisition 
of territory. 


It was in contradiction of the resolution of 1T80, by 
which the States were allured to code their nnlocated lands 
to the General Government, upon the condition 1 1 mt these 
should constitute several States, to be admitted into the 
Union upon an eqnal fooling with the original States. 

It is in ("rami of the acts of cession bj which the States 
conveyed territory in faith of the resolution of 17^0. And, 
when recognized by acts of Congress, and applied to the 
States formed from the territory beyond the Ohio, it is in 
violation of the Constitution of the United States. 

So much for the efficacy of the precedent which, although 
binding here, is not, it would seem, of obligation upon 
Ohio, Indiana, or Illinois, or, if you impose it, upon Mis- 
souri. It is not the force of your legal provisions which 
attaches the restrictive fith article of the ordinance to the 
States I have mentioned. 

It is the moral sentiment of the inhabitants. Impose it 
upon Missouri, and she will indignantly throw off the yoke 
and laugh you to scorn ! You will then discover that you 
have assumed a weapon that you cannot wield — the bow 
of Ulysses, which all your efforts cannot bend. 

The open and voluntary exposure of your weakness will 
make you not only the object of derision at home, but a 
by-word among nations. Can there be a power in Con- 
gress to do that which the object of the power may right- 
fully destroy ? Are the rights of Missouri and of the Union 
in opposition to each other ? Can it be possible that Con- 
gress has authority to impose a restriction which Missouri, 
by an alteration of her Constitution, may abolish ? Sir, the 
course we are pursuing reminds me of the urchin who, with 
great care and anxiety, constructs his card edifice, which 
the slightest touch may demolish, the gentlest breath dis- 

But let us stand together upon the basis of precedent ; 


and upon that ground you cannot extend this restriction to 

You have imposed it upon the territory beyond the Ohio, 
but you have never applied it elsewhere. Tennessee, Ver- 
mont, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, have 
come into the Union without being required to submit to 
the condition inhibiting slavery ; nay, whenever the Ordi- 
nance of 1781 has been applied to any of these States, the 
operation of the 6th article has been suspended or destroyed. 

According, then, to the uniform tenor of the precedent, 
let the States to be formed of the territory without the 
boundaries of the territory northwest of Ohio remain unre- 
stricted, and in the enjoyment of the fullness of their rights. 

Thus, it appears to me, the power you seek to assume is 
not found in the Constitution, or to be derived from prece- 

Shall, it, then, without any known process of generation, 
spring spontaneously from your councils, like the armed 
Minerva from the brain of Jupiter ? The goddess, sir, 
although of wisdom, was also the inventress of war — and 
the power of your creation, although extensive in its dimen- 
sions, and ingenious in its organization, may produce the 
most terrible and deplorable effects. 

Assure yourselves you have not authority to bind a State 
coming into the Union, with a single hair ! If you have, 
you may rivet a chain upon every limb, a fetter upon every 

Where, then, I ask is the independence of your State 
governments ? Do they not fall prostrate, debased, covered 
with sackloth and crowned with ashes, before the gigantic 
power of the Union ? They will no longer, sir, resemble 
planets, moving in order around a solar centre, receiving 
and imparting lustre. They will dwindle to mere satellites, 
or, thrown from their orbits, they will wander " like stars 
condemned, the wrecks of worlds demolished !" 

H* 5|C 2|( 5yt Jj£ 5|C 


But, let gentlemen beware 1 Assume the Mississippi as 
the boundary. Say, that to the smiling Canaan beyond its 
waters no slave shall approach, and you give a new charac- 
ter to its inhabitants, totally distinct from that which shall 
belong to the people thronging on the east of your limits. 

You implant diversity of pursuits, hostility of feeling, 
envy, hatred, and bitter reproaches, which 

11 Shall grow to clubs and naked swords, 
To murder and to death." 

If you remain inexorable ; if you persist in refusing the 
humble, the decent, the reasonable prayer of Missouri, is 
there no danger that her resistance will rise in proportion 
to your oppression? Sir, the firebrand, which is even now 
cast into your society, will require blood — ay, and the 
blood of freemen — for its qnenching. Your Union shall 
tremble, as under the force of an earthquake I While you 
incautiously pull down a constitutional barrier, you make 
way for the dark, and tumultuous, and overwhelming waters 
of desolation! If you "sow the wind, must you not reap 
the whirlwind ?" 

February 25. Mr. Scott, of Missouri, said : The pow- 
ers given to Congress by the Constitution were few, express, 
limited, positive, and defined; the majority of them were to 
be found in the eighth section of that instrument, and con- 
sisted in the authority to levy taxes, borrow money, and 
regulate commerce ; establish a uniform system of bank- 
ruptcy ; to regulate the coin, puuish counterfeiting, establish 
post-offices and post-roads, constitute courts, declare war, 
raise armies, maintain a navy, call forth the militia, organize 
and regulate them ; to have exclusive jurisdiction over the 
District of Columbia, and their forts, magazines, arsenals, 
dock-yards, and to make all laws which should be necessary 
and proper to carry into effect the enumerated powers. Mr. 
S. could not discover that the authority to impose restric- 


tions on States could be derived from any latitude of con- 
struction growing out of this section. 

But the powers of Congress were not only enumerated 
and expressed in the Constitution ; the tenth section was 
equally explicit in declaring of what attributes of sove- 
reignty the States should be deprived ; no State was to enter 
into any treaty of alliance, grant letters of marque and re- 
prisal, coiu money, emit bills of credit, make anything but 
.gold and silver a tender, pass any bill of attainder, ex post 
facto law, impair contracts, or grant titles of nobility ; nor, 
without consent of Congress, lay imposts or duties on im- 
ports or exports, lay any duty on tonnage, keep troops or 
ships of war in time of peace, or make any agreement with 
any foreign power, or even with a sister State, or engage in 
war, unless actually invaded. 

The States, then, were divested by the Constitution of 
no portion of sovereignty but those actually named and vol- 
untarily surrendered ; all other powers, and the residue of 
sovereignty, were inhereut in, and expressly reserved to, 
the States aud the people. 

*»* *f* *l* ^F n* *1* *f€ 5fC 

The second clause of the third section of the fourth article 
provided that "Congress shall have power to dispose of, and 
make all needful rules and regulations respecting the terri- 
tory or other property of the United States." 

The whole context of this article showed that it was as 
property, and not otherwise, that Congress were to make 
rules and regulations. Certainly the boldest advocate for 
restriction would not contend that Congress had any prop- 
erty in the persons of the citizens of Missouri, because they 
were circumstantially connected with a territory over which 
they had a limited control. Surely gentlemen would not 
undertake to advance the doctrine that Congress had any 
property in the confirmed lands of individuals, or in the 
lands purchased of the government and patented to the pur- 


chaser, and still less had Congress any property in the rights 
of the people. 

And if Congress ever had the power contended for, while 
they owned the land, it would surely cease to exist so .soon 
as they parted with the soil. 

The sovereignty of Congress over the territory, as the 
lords paramount, was but temporary, and could only enduro 
so long as they retained the soil ; when that was disposed 
of, their sovereignty ceased also. 

Yet, by virtue of this brief and temporary authority, lim- 
ited in its extent, and short in its duration, Congress wero 
about to fix on Missouri a never-ending condition, that was 
to continue long after the authority on which it rested for 
existence, had passed away. 

If, in consequence of owning the land, Congress possessed 
that description of sovereignty that would authorize them 
to legislate in regard to the property of the citizens of a 
Territory or a State, or to dictate what kind of property 
the citizens should introduce and hold, then might they at 
this day undertake to regulate the affairs of the States of 
Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Ala- 
bama ; and their right to impose restrictions on each of 
them, similar to that contemplated in regard to Missouri, 
would be equally as unquestionable. 

The whole amount of the authority Congress could claim 
under this clause of the Constitution, was, to make rules 
and regulations for the surveying and disposing of the pub- 
lic lands, to regulate the quantities in which it should be 
sold, the price, and the credit. 

But this power was limited in its operation to the 
property alone, and by no construction could be extended to 
the rights of the citizens inhabiting the territory. Congress 
had no power over the right or property of the citizen, but, 
in certain cases, to levy taxes ; and this authority was one of 


those expressly conferred by the Constitution, and was not 

alone supported by inference. 

* * * * * * 

To ascertain what powers Congress had under the Con- 
stitution, which was ratified on the 17th of September 1787, 
resort was made to an ordinance of the 13th of July, 1787, 
several months, in date, prior to the Constitution of the 
United States. 

The ordinance was passed by the old Congress, under the 
Articles of Confederation. 

The adoption of the federal Constitution was the forma- 
tion of a new government, and an abolition of the old ; and 
yet, an ordinance passed by the former government was 
brought up in judgment to define and expound the powers 
of Congress under a new and totally different government — 
under a new Constitution, and new organization. 

Gentlemen had contended that Congress had revived and 
ratified the ordinance in the act of 1802, relating to Ohio ; 
the act of 1816, relating to Indiana; and the act of 1818, 
in reference to Illinois ; these being the acts by which Con- 
gress authorized those States to form a Constitution and 
State government. 

But, were he to surrender this part of the argument to 
gentlemen, could it possibly be deduced, that, because Con- 
gress had revived the ordinance in reference to any one or 
all those States, that, by that revival, it would have any 
operation beyond the State actually named, and to which it 
was applied. !N"or, had the question ever been made, by 
any of those States, which Missouri now made, how far 
Congress had the power to impose the provisions of that 
ordinance over a State ; they had taken it as a matter of 
course because it comported with their wishes and their 

Missouri did not intend so to take it, because it neither 
promoted her interest, nor complied with her wishes or her 


will ; nor did he believe that either of those States would 
now acknowledge that they had not the equal right with 
any other State of the Union to call a convention, and so 
alter their constitution as to admit slavery ; and if they had 
this right, the operation of the ordinance upon them as a 
State was void and of no avail. 

The Ordinance of 1787, then, was a dead letter, so far as 
it had been resorted to as furnishing any explanation of the 
powers of Congress under the federal Constitution, and it 
was equally inapplicable, as precedent, in relation to Mis- 
souri, because, at no period of the territorial government, 
had any portion of its provisions been extended to that ter- 
ritory, save only those principles that had been incorporated 
into the act of the 4th of June, 1802, when the second grade 
of government had been conferred upon Missouri. 

* * * * * * 

A member from Ohio (Mr. Brush) had contended that, 
under the 8th section of the Constitution that gave Con- 
gress the power "to provide for the common defense and 
general welfare," they could impose the restriction on Mis- 
souri, because he had assumed it for granted, that, to limit 
the negroes to certain latitudes, and to confine them within 
certain limits, would be promoting the common defense and 
general welfare. 

Now, what would contribute to the common defense and 
general welfare was mere matter of opinion, and it was not 
always that the means used produced the end ; a mistake in 
the one was sure to defeat the other, and it appeared to 
Mr. S. much more reasonable to suppose that the common 
defense was weakened, and the general welfare much more 
endangered, by confining the slaves within certain districts, 
condensing their population, and enabling them to act in 
concert, than to spread them over a vast extent of territory, 
distributing them in small proportions among the whites, 


and thus prevent the probability of insurrection, from a want 
of capacity to concentrate their forces. 

If, then, an occasional majority of Congress had the 
right, under this or any other clause of the Constitution, to 
say that, in their opinion, it promoted the common defense 
and general welfare, that slavery should not exist in certain 
States of the Union ; a counter majority, at any other 
time, under the same clause of the Constitution, would 
have the power to declare that it comported with their 
views of common defense and general welfare that it 
should exist in all the States, and that the non-slaveholding 
States should admit slaves within their borders, under pain 
of suspension or expulsion from the Union. 

How would gentlemen then stand affected ? 

Would they not then declare against this mighty power, 
exercised upon mere speculation, whether this or that mea- 
sure promoted the common defense and general welfare of 
the nation ! In point of fact there was little, if any, dif- 
ference between the taking away, or forcing upon, any 
person or people that which they did or did not want ; each 
was equally a violation of their rights. 

Mr. Tucker, of Virginia, said : Putting aside the feel- 
ings of the people of Missouri, is it not a solid objection to 
this restriction, that your power to impose it is doubtful 
and contested ? However thoroughly gentlemen on the 
other side may be persuaded that Congress possesses this 
power, they must know that a large portion of the United 
States are as thoroughly persuaded that it does not ; that, 
on this question there is entire unanimity in the slavehold- 
ing States ; and that, with all the motives to an opposite 
unanimity in the other States, there is among them, as well 
as among their representatives in this House, considerable 
diversity of opinion. 

They must also recollect, that, though these circum- 
stances do not produce conviction, they must produce some 


doubt, awaken some distrust in the infallibility of human 
reason in every ingenuous mind. 

And, Mr. Chairman, when we consider the influence of 
public opinion on the harmony and stability of this Union, 
it must always be a matter of regret that the government 
should exercise powers that are doubtful, or even disputed. 
Until habit and custom have had their wonted effect in 
cementing the Union, its strength and permanency must 
rest on the affections, the undivided affections, of the peo- 
ple, and nothing is more likely to weaken their attachment 
than a want of confidence in this House, the natural 
guardian of the people's rights, and their immediate repre- 

March 2. Mr. Stevens, of Connecticut, said : In this 
question of compromise now to be decided, I am more 
fortunate, I now have the floor, and must avail myself of 
this first opportunity to state, explicitly, that I have listened 
with pain to the very long, protracted debate that has been 
had on this unfortunate question ; I call it unfortunate, sir, 
because it has drawn forth the worst passions of man in the 
course of the discussion. I have heard gentlemen, and I 
must in candor say, gentlemen on both sides of the question, 
boast of sectional powers, and sectional achievements; and 
remind gentlemen from opposite sections of the Union that 
they had not so fought and so conquered ; or left such con- 
clusion irresistibly to follow. 

I want, and the manifest public good requires that the 
reverse of this language should be holden. 

Let each gentleman boast the valor of the inhabitants 
of an opposite section of the Union, then all get the praise 
due them, and in a way infinitely more acceptable to gentle- 
men of becoming modesty ; and surely if any people ever 
merited all the praise that has been arrogated instead of 
being bestowed, the American people do. But it is not 
the inhabitants of any section of America that exclusively 


merit all their exalted praise ; but the Union collectively. 
In casting my eye over the map of my country, I scarcely 
discover a spot on it but is rendered memorable as the 
birth-place of some sage, hero, or philosopher ; if these occur 
most frequently in Connecticut it is very well — if most fre- 
quently in some other State, very well — it is still my coun- 
try. Shall I forego every joy of my life because the im- 
mortal Washington was not born in the State, of very cir 
cumscribed limits, in which I was born ? Preposterous 
thought ! He was born in America. 

That is enough for me. His glory reaches us, bottomed 
on merit, and scorns the proffered aid of mouldering marble 
to perpetuate it. If the deadliest enemy this country has, 
or ever had, could dictate language the most likely to 
destroy your glory, prosperity, and happiness, would it not 
be precisely what has been so profusely used in this debate — 
sectional vaunting ? Most undoubtedly it would. If the 
fell Spirit of Discord, the prime mover of sedition and re- 
bellion in the heavenly realms, should rack his hellish in- 
vention for the same .malicious purpose, he would undoubt- 
edly pull the cord of sectional prowess ; he would magnify 
the valorous deeds of each particular State or party divi- 
sion, and distort or obliterate all the rest. The arch plan- 
ner of the first sedition and rebellion must for ever despair 
of improving on the sad invention. But, sir, gentlemen 
start at the mention — Why do this ? You hold your seats 
by the tenure of compromise. The Constitution is a crea- 
ture of compromise ; it originated in a compromise ; and 
has existed ever since by a perpetual extension and exercise 
of that principle ; and must continue to do so, as long as it 
lasts. When your Convention met for its formation, they 
immediately discovered that the general welfare, the object 
of their solicitude, could not be secured and perpetuated, 
without giving up something like particular rights ; and 
this giving up of particular rights, to secure the great end 


and object of their meeting was called a compromise 
What did they do ? They debated some months and then 
came to the obviously necessary result — compromise. It 
was plainly seen then as now — that, to obtain the object 
sought, it was necessary to make some sacrifices and to as- 
sume some evils. They thus thought the good sought was 
worth the sacrifices necessary to obtain it ; and now after 
thirty years' successful experience, who dare arraign their 
wisdom or their patriotism ? Kashness itself must forever 
remain dumb to this demand. If gentlemen are in favor 
of any compromise, it is a fit time to discuss that subject, 
and see if any can be hit on that will give general satisfac- 
tion. I am in favor of a compromise, but have strong ob- 
jections to that now under consideration. J greatly fear it 
would tend to perpetuate the evil we seek to remedy. The 
south line of Pennsylvania State and the Ohio waters now 
form the boundary line between the two parties. If you 
continue that line, by the 36° 30' of north latitude, to the 
Pacific Ocean, I fear it will not prove a pacific measure. 
This would be to place on your records a perpetual sallying 
place for party. It is devoutly to be wished that such 
compromise might be hit on as would forever put an end 
to the unhappy existence of parties in their present shape. 
I should prefer a prohibition of the admission of slaves into 
that State, as a measure most likely to effect that desirable 
object. The number already there is not so great now as 
to be a subject of any great uneasiness to those most op- 
posed to the continuance of slavery. 

Few gentlemen have risen in debate on this question, 
without deeply lamenting (and I think with great reason) 
the existence of parties, designated by geographical lines 
and boundaries. 

I also deprecate it, as being a division of the Uniou into 
parties so equal in number, wealth, intelligence, and extent 
of territory. Indeed, sir, there is no view of this unhappy 


division of our country, but must be sickening to the patriot, 
and in direct violation of the dictate of wisdom and the 
last, though not least, important advice of the father and 
friend of his country. He forbids the use of the words 
Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western, as descrip- 
tive of the various parts of your country. 

And will you forget so important an injunction from that 
man in so short a time ? Was there no political wisdom in 
the command ? If none, why has it been so long venerated ? 
I should prefer a compromise forbidding the importation of 
any more slaves into the State of Missouri. 

This, I think, would allay party feeling, drive into for- 
getfulness present feuds, and satisfy my friends to the north 
and east, with whom I have acted, and delight to act. In 
common with them, I have an hereditary dislike to slavery, 
strengthened by a residence all my life, to the present time, 
in a country where it does not exist. I honor their dislike 
of slavery, and firmly believe there is not a gentleman in 
this House but deprecates its existence. Agreeing in this 
all-important point, let us not separate because we cannot 
think precisely alike of the means best calculated to eradi- 
cate it. 

Was it ever known that a body so numerous thought 
exactly alike throughout any one grand, all-important 
measure for public good, in all the detail ? And is it not 
the circumstance of a division in sentiment in so large a 
body, so equal in point of number, a thing that should lead 
both to suspect they may be wrong ? Gentlemen who have 
much property of this sort, I. agree, are deeply interested ; 
but candor must at the same time admit they have, from 
the fact of being slaveholders, much practical and useful 
knowledge on this subject that cannot be claimed by non- 
slaveholders. And this knowledge is extremely useful, not 
to say indispensable, especially as to the extenjt of the evil 
to the slaves, and to the community generally. This know- 


ledge is indispensable when it is sought to effect emanci- 
pation on terms the best calculated to insure infallible 
success, and to effect it in a way the least likely to hazard 
any destructive revolution that might, in unskillful hands, 
insure more evil than the good intended. If we admit 
slaveholders to have more knowledge on this subject than, 
from the nature of the case, we can have, their voice in 
council should not be entirely unheeded. 

But, sir, we have now arrived at a point at which every 
gentleman agrees something must be done. A precipice 
lies before us, at which perdition is inevitable. Gentlemen 
on both sides of this question, and in both Houses, in doors 
and out of doors, have evinced a determination that augurs 
ill of the high destinies of this country ? And who does 
not tremble for the consequences ? 

I do not here speak of that feeling which results from an 
apprehension of personal danger. No, sir ! I speak of 
that feeling which agitates the soul of every patriot when 
his country is in danger. 

I speak of that feeling, without a susceptibility of which 
a man is no ornament to any country. I wish not to be 
misunderstood, sir. I don't pretend to say that in just five 
calendar months your union will be at an end ; your con- 
stitution destroyed ; your proud trophies, won in the most 
valiant combat, profaned ; glories of half a century, gained 
by yourselves and your departed friends, and unequaled in 
the history of any country or people on the face of the 
earth, made the sport of an envying world ; and all this in 
a sacrilegious contest, at the end of which no wise man 
would give a pea-straw for his choice on which side to be 
found, as the victors would have lost all, and the vanquished 
have nothing left to excite envy. 

February, 1820. Mr. Richard M. Johnson, of Kentucky, 
addressed the Senate as follows : 


Mr. President : It appears to me, sir, that in the course 
ot this debate we have unhappily misunderstood each other 
Expressions have been used, on both sides, conveying dif- 
ferent sentiments from what were intended. Those who 
have advocated the measure of restriction, have used 
language which would indicate a disposition to proceed to 
universal emancipation, alike regardless of the means by 
which they would accomplish it, and of the sovereignty of 
the States in which it is tolerated ; at the same time 
charging upon the present proprietors of this species of 
property all the odium of that perfidy and cruelty by which 
slavery was first introduced into the country. Those on 
the other hand, who have contended for the sovereignty of 
•the States, and opposed the measure of restriction as an 
assumption of power unknown in the Constitution, have 
given , a latitude to their expressions which has been con- 
strued into a justification of the abstract principle of slaverv 
Misconceptions, and misconstructions of language pro- 
ducing crimination and recrimination, should ever be 
avoided in this body, especially upon this delicate subject 
On reviewing the scope of argument, on both sides, lam 
satisfied that the one cannot be justly charged with advoca- 
ting the sentiments which their language would seem to in- 
dicate ; nor the other, with an attempt to justify the ab- 
stract principle f slavery as either religiously, morally or 
politically, correct. None will pretend, that Congress can 
interfere with the subject of slavery in the several States • and 
no member of the Senate could advocate the slave Lade 
without exciting the indignation of the whole nation The 
tree ,s known by its fruit. And let me entreat yon sir 
to recollect what has been the conduct of the represent^ 
t-ves of States, where this property is recognized, from the 
commencement of 1808, the moment in which the general 
government was authorized by the Constitution to put an 
end to this merciless traffic. Not a solitary voice has been 


raised in favor of the African slave trade. A universal dis- 
position has ever been evinced to annihilate forever this 
cruel branch of commerce, which swells every bosom with 
sorrow ; which fills every heart with indignation. If all the 
States, in which slavery exist, can furnish one exception — 
if the slave trade has ever had one advocate within these 
walls, let it be proclaimed to the world ! No such excep- 
tion does exist — no such advocate can be found. For my 
own part, in verity I protest, that no person in existence 
more detest this abominable traffic in human beings than 
myself; and I am confident that every man whom I repre- 
sent has the same abhorrent feelings in relation to the sub- 
ject. But, sir, the right of Congress to interfere in pro- 
perty of this, and other description, is quite a different ques- 
tion. It was originally imposed upon us by the policy of 
Great Britain ; but now we have acquired in it a legitimate 
propriety ; we have paid for it our money ; we hold it under 
the sanction of law, and have the right to dispose of it as we 
please. The General Government, if not pledged to guar- 
antee to us the enjoyment of it, certainly have no right, con- 
stitutional or moral, to wrest it from us. We hold not 
ourselves accountable to the nation for the treatment we 
shall observe, or the disposition we shall make of ttifs, more 
than any other species of property, nor will any be permit- 
ted to dictate our conduct therein. Notwithstanding these 
sentiments, no person can more sincerely lament, than I do, 
the existence of involuntary servitude in the United States ; 
and none would make greater personal sacrifices, could I 
discover a way, in the providence of God, to bring it to an 

We are not the only people who have had slaves ; yes, 
and slaves of their own complexion. I speak not this to 
justify the principle, but to remind you of the fact, that 
slavery has existed from the earliest ages of antiquity to the 
present day. Nor has its existence been confined to heathen 


nations ; both Jews and Christians, believers as well as un- 
believers in divine revelation, from the patriarchs of God's 
ancient people to the present time, have been the proprie- 
tors of slaves, without one admonition from Heaven in the 
whole book of inspiration against it. The law of Moses 
delivered by the Almighty himself for the government of his 
own chosen race, recognized a complete property in slaves 
* Abraham, the father of the faithful," "the friend of God » 
had upwards of two hundred born in his own house, whom 
he trailed to war. Isaac, the child of promise, inherited 
this property ; and Jacob, the progenitor of the twelve tribes 
of Israel, had bond-men and bond-maids of his own. We 
even find the same custom to have prevailed with them 
which continues to the present day ; that when a daughter 
was given in marriage, she received, as a gift from her fa- 
ther, a maid-servant, and a man-servant was given with a 
son. Under the benign influence of the gospel dispensation 
no change in this respect is found. The Apostle Paul in 
his letters to the churches of Ephesus and Colosse, and in 
his instruction to Timothy, designed for all Christians, and 
in all ages, speaking of the relative and reciprocal duties of 
parents and children, of husbands and wives, never fails to 
exhort servants or slaves to be obedient to their masters 
and masters to deal gently with their slaves. Fidelity, on 
the part of the slave, and kindness, on the part of 'the 
master, are thus made Christian duties; but emancipa- 
tion is not even hinted at, as the right of the one or 
the obligation of the other. Before I leave this part 
of the subject it may not be improper to advert to the 
story of Onesimus ; he was the slave of Philemon, a dis- 
tinguished Christian minister. Onesimus fled from his mas- 
ter and went to Rome, where, by the instruction of Paul he 
was converted to the Christian faith. Paul found him use- 
ful in the cause, and desired to retain him in Rome ; but 
recognizing the property of Philemon in him, he had »> 


hesitation to remand Onesimus to his master ; and not even 
to employ him in the cause of God, without first obtaining 
his master's consent. Now, sir, as it is evident, that, under 
every dispensation of Heaven, slavery has existed, and that 
neither patriarchs, prophets, nor apostles, to whom the 
word of inspiration was committed, ever made the subject 
a test of piety, or matter of animadversion, I know of no 
principle, either human or divine, by which slaveholders in 
America can be justly reprobated as the most odious of 

Do I attempt to justify the principle of slavery by thus 
adverting to sacred history to prove its existence among good 
men ? No. But the allusion is made to prove this fact : 
that there may be a state of things in which slavery be- 
comes a necessary evil, and which its existence is not in- 
compatible with true religion. Such a state of things, the 
gentlemen on the opposite side must acknowledge to have 
existed among themselves ; for in the abolition of slavery in 
those States where it is abolished, though the number was 
small, yet the wisdom of their legislatures, in almost every 
instance, prevented the evils which they expected to result 
from a sudden change, by providing for its gradual aboli- 
tion. Yes, sir, those who are now most censorious in their de- 
clamations against slavery, have, by their own acts, in their 
own States, sanctioned, every principle which the slave- 
holder in other States, either sanctions or avows ; because, 
in the gradual instead of sudden abolition, they have ac- 
knowledged the existence of that state of things among 
themselves, which justified the holding of some in a state of 
involuntary servitude for life, and of others for a term of 
years. If such has been the policy of States, where the 
numbers of slaves, owing originally to the coldness of their 
climate rather than to any moral cause, bore but a very 
small proportion to their whole population, it is but rea- 
sonable to conclude that they would have justified the same 


policy which has governed their sister States, had it been 
their lot to have embosomed as great a proportion of 

But humanity is the plea. And can gentlemen sincerely 
believe that the cause of humanity will be promoted by still 
confining this population within such limits as that their 
relative numbers will oppose everlasting obstacles to their 
emancipation? Upon the most extensive principle of 
philanthropy, I say, let them spread forth with the growing 
extent of our nation. I am sure I plead the cause of 
humanity. I advocate the best interests of the sons of 
bondage, when I entreat you to give them room to be 
happy ; and so disperse them as that, under the auspices of 
Providence, they may one day enjoy the rights of man 
without convulsing the empire or endangering society We 
must now take the world as we find it-not as we would 
have it— and adapt our measures to the actual state of 
things. The cruelties which are passed cannot be retracted ; 
and upon the slave trade we can now only look back with 
emotions of regret, which have but one balm of consolation 
to mitigate our sorrows. It is this : that outrages upon 
humanity may , e tolerated in civilized society, which are 
overruled by I ivine Providence, for the ultimate good of 
those who were the victims of cruelty. Such has been the 
consequence of the slave trade ; and let it now be our object 
to make them feel the benefit, since they have not been 
exempted from the misery. 

There is no just cause for irritation on this subject We 
should suppress our feelings, when they threaten to trans- 
port us beyond the bounds of reason. Early habits be^et 
strong prejudices; and under a heavy burden of them we 
a labor But it becomes us to bring them to one common 
altar and consume them together. Before we compel our 
brother to pluck the mote from his eye, it will be wise to 
take the beam from our own. On this occasion I cannot 


omit to mention my own feelings on a former occurrence. 
When I first came to Congress, it was with mingled emo- 
tions of horror and surprise that I saw citizens from the 
non-slaveholding States, as they are called — yes, and both 
branches of our National Legislature — riding in a coach 
and four, with a white servant seated before, managing the 
reins, another standing behind the coach, and both of these 
white servants in livery. Is this, said I to myself, the 
degraded condition of the citizen, on whose voice the liber- 
ties of a nation may depend 1 I could not reconcile it with 
my ideas of freedom ; because, in the State where I received 
my first impressions, slaves alone were servile. All white 
men there are on an equality, and every citizen feels his 
independence. We have no classes — no patrician or ple- 
beian rank. Honesty and honor form all the distinctions 
that are felt or known. Whatever may be the condition of 
a citizen with us, you must treat him as an equal. This, I 
find, is not so in every part of the non-slaveholding States, 
especially in your populous cities, where ranks and distinc- 
tions, the precursors of aristocracy, already begin to exist. 
They whose business it is to perform menial offices in other 
States, are as servile as our slaves in the W est. Where is 
the great difference betwixt the condition o 1 him who keeps 
your stable, who blacks your boots, who holds your stirrups, 
or mounts behind your coach when you ride, and the slave 
who obeys the command of his master ? There may be a 
nominal difference ; but it would be difficult to describe ita 
reality. In the one case it is called voluntary, because it is 
imposed by its own necessity, and in the other involuntary, 
because imposed by the will of another. Whatever differ- 
ence there may be in the principle, the effects upon society 
are the same. The condition, in some respects, is in favor 
of the slave. He is supplied with food and clothing ; and 
in the hour of sickness he finds relief. No anxious cares 
in relation to age and infirmity, invade his breast. He 


fears no duns : careless of the pressure of the times, he 
dreads not the coercion of payment, nor feels the cruelty of 
that code which confines the white servant in prison, be- 
cause the iron hand of poverty has wrested from him the 
means of support for his family. Though slavery still must 
be confessed a bitter draught, yet where the stamp of 
nature marks the distinction, and when the mind, from 
early habit, is moulded to the condition, the slave often 
finds less bitterness in the cup of life than most white ser- 
vants. What is the condition of many, who are continually 
saluting our ears with cries of want, even in this city ? 
Men, women, boys, girls, from infancy to old age, craving 
relief from every passenger. Are they slaves ? No. 
Among the slaves are no beggars ; no vagrants ; none idle 
for want of employ, or crying for want of bread. Every 
condition of life has its evils ; and most evils have some 
palliative ; though perhaps none less than those of white 
menials. Yet, sir, none are more lavish of their censures 
against slavery than those lordlings with livery servants of 
their own complexion. For my own part, I have hitherto 
been fortunate in my public course, in having retained the 
confidence of my fellow citizens. I have not only triumphed 
over the most troubled elements — I have even braved the 
storm produced by the famous compensation law ; but I 
never could stand having white servants dressed in livery. 
No, sir, when the honest laborer, the mechanic, however 
poor, or whatever his employment, visits my house, it mat- 
ters not what company is there, he must sit with me at my 
board, and receive the same treatment as the most dis- 
tinguished guest ; because in him I recognize a fellow 
citizen and an equal. 

The condition of the slave is but little understood by 
those who are not the eye-witnesses of his treatment. His 
sufferings are greatly aggravated in their apprehension. 
The general character of the slaveholding community can 


no more be determined, nor should they be any more stig- 
matized, by a particular instance of cruelty to a slave, than 
the character of the non-slaveholding community by a par- 
ticular instance of cruelty in a parent toward his child, a 
guardian to his ward, or a master to his apprentice. No 
man among us can be cruel to his slave without incurring 
the execration of the whole community. The slave is trained 
to industry ; and he is recompensed by kindness and hu- 
manity, which lighten his burden. His master is his guar- 
dian. He enjoys the rights of conscience, and worships 
God as he chooses. The Gospel sheds as bright a lustre 
on his path as on that of the white man ; and quite as great 
a proportion of them become believers in the Saviour, and 
are admitted into the communion of the Christian Church. 

Except on the sugar, the rice, and the cotton plantations, 
at the South, the slave is not a profit to his master. Upon 
a fair calculation of debtor and creditor, the majority of 
them would fall in debt ; and the holding of them is more 
a matter of convenience than profit. 

A solemn appeal has been made to the Declaration of 
Independence, as if that instrument had a bearing upon this 
question ; though, at that day, and long since, slavery ex- 
isted in every State of the Union. That sentiment has 
been quoted, that all men are created equal ; that they are 
endowed by their Creator with certain equal, inalienable 
rights ; among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of 
happiness. This sacred truth should be engraven upon 
every heart, for it is the foundation of all civil rights, and 
the palladium of our liberties. The meaning of this sen- 
tence is defined in its application ; that all communities 
stand upon an equality ; that Americans are equal with 
Englishmen, and have the right to organize such govern- 
ment for themselves as they shall choose, whenever it is 
their pleasure to dissolve the bonds which unite them to 
another people. The same principle applied to Missouri 


will defeat the object of gentlemen who advocate this re- 

Could this principle be reduced to practice in relation 
to every human being, it would be happy ; but such is the 
character, and such the condition of man, that it is per- 
petually violated by every individual, and by every body 
politic ; often wantonly, sometimes through necessity. 
Every State in this Confederacy, not even excepting the 
great and unambitious State of Pennsylvania, violates this 
principle, if it be understood according to the application 
given it by gentlemen, in the most important political 
rights — the elective franchise and the qualification for office. 
The organization of every department, both of the general 
government and the State governments, infringes upon this 
principle. Different qualifications are required in different 
States ; in some, a freehold inheritance ; and the least, in 
the most democratic States, are age and residence. And 
shall we reject a State for this violation of principle ? 
However unfortunate it may be, this great principle of 
equality, so delightful in theory, is but very partially re- 
garded in practice ; and I will not deny the allegation, when 
it is asserted that necessity often justifies the measure. 
Then, sir, let imperious necessity, in this case, also prefer 
its claim to consideration. 


There is a mystery in this anxiety, this excitement of 
popular commotion on the one hand, and this utter indiffer- 
ence on the other, which it requires a casuist to divine. 
Is your object the emancipation of slaves ? No one pre- 
tends that this measure will diminish the number of slaves, 
unless, by this very singular kind of humanity, you dimin- 
ish their comfort to such a degree as to prevent the increase 
of that species of population. Nor is it pretended that the 
failure of this favorite motion for restriction wiir enslave a 
solitary individual of the human race j though we have wit- 


nessed that strange kind of sympathy for their sufferings 
which would so confirm their misery as to deprive them of 
a posterity. For my own part, Mr. President, I do not 
well comprehend this humanity. I would prefer a different 
exercise of this noble principle. Miserable as the condi- 
tion of the slave may be, his condition is yet preferred to 
that of annihilation. He finds in life sufficient charms to 
induce him still to cleave to it; and in his rising progeny 
he has the same kind of satisfaction that the free man feels. 
He will never court your sympathies, if they are to be 
elicited in adding confinement to servitude, and to ultimate 
in annihilation. Humanity has a head as well as heart; 
and as the citizens of Missouri have the same right in na- 
ture to govern themselves that any others enjoy, the legiti- 
mate exercise of this principle will be, to leave them to the 
enjoyment of that right, and they will decide for themselves 
the most humane policy to be pursued. 

But, sir, this is not a question of slavery. The simple 
question involved is this ; whether I shall have an equal 
right with my worthy friend from Pennsylvania (Mr. Rob- 
erts) to remove with my property (slaves and all) to Mis- 
souri — a common property, purchased by the common 
treasure of the whole Union ; and whether my constituents, 
the citizens of Kentucky, shall enjoy the same right with 
the citizens of Maine to inherit this common property, with 
all their effects. I am aware, sir, that, by some means, this 
question has been made to assume the appearance of a ques- 
tion for freedom, on the one hand, and slavery on the other. 
From the popular excitement which has manifested itself 
in many communities at the North, I am warranted in this 
conclusion. The mass of society in every section of our 
country is righteous ; and I am certain the expression of 
their sentiments upon this subject, by such worthy and 
honorable citizens, in so many popular meetings, has been 
upon this mistaken view. It has not been the clamor of 


intriguing politicians, striving for an ascendancy of power, 
provoking local animosities for ambitious purposes, but 
from a misapprehension of the main question for that of 
slavery. I am ready to acknowledge that they have shown 
a zeal in the cause of liberty which does honor to their 
hearts. I will mention a case in point : A very worthy 
friend of mine, who was always an enemy to slavery, and 
had made personal sacrifices in the cause of emancipation, 
was of the opinion that Congress had no constitutional 
right to impose this restriction. He received a letter from 
an intimate friend of his, expressing much surprise on 
learning that he had become an advocate for slavery. In 
his reply, he denied the charge of having changed his sen- 
timents ; but stated his reasons for the opinion which he 
held in a manner which would have done honor both to the 
Uead and heart of a legislator. He conceived the govern- 
ment to be pledged, by the solemn stipulation of the treaty 
of cession by which that territory was acquired, to admit 
them into the Union ; which pledge could not be honorably 
redeemed, if conditions were imposed which did not exist 
in relation to the original States. As slavery therein had 
been sanctioned by law while it remained a territory ; and 
as citizens of the States, holding slaves, had purchased 
lands from the Government, in that territory, under the ex- 
pectation of removing to it, and improving it with their 
slaves, he conceived it to be an act of injustice in that Gov- 
ernment to require a condition which would deprive them 
of these benefits. The power of Congress to admit new 
States into the Union, he conceived to be no other than 
that of the principle of the Constitution ; whereby every 
State so admitted must retain the same sovereignty as that 
retained by the States which formed the Federal compact ; 
and as those States had reserved to themselves the power 
of sanctioning or abolishing slavery, so Missouri, on be- 
coming a State, could not be constitutionally deprived of 


that power. This reasoning, sir, appears to me conclusive. 
The stipulations of the treaty ; the sanctions under which 
the lands have been sold, and the nature of the Constitution 
itself, in regard to State sovereignties, oppose irresistible 
obstacles to the restriction proposed. But these misunder- 
standings of the real question at issue are unfortunate, as 
they produce a false alarm in the community. Prejudices 
thus riveted upon the minds of a virtuous people are cal- 
culated to array one part of the great American family 
against the other, without the hope of one solitary benefit 
for the result. Ambitious men may gladly seize the occa- 
sion to court popularity and confidence ; but rest assured 
the people are to be the victims of their wiles. 

The division which this subject produces is the more to 
be deprecated as it is marked by geographical lines. The 
mischievous consequences of thus provoking jealousies and 
animosities have not been sufficiently contemplated by the 
patriot and statesman. The inevitable result must be this : 
you will look for residence, and overlook merit. Public 
services and private virtues will be forgotten. A demon or 
a saint will equally suit your purpose, till the favorite ob- 
ject is accomplished. Prejudice will blind your eyes to the 
danger of bad principles ; and while laboring in vain to 
break the manacles of others, who do not thank you for the 
effort, you are forging chains for yourselves that will one 
day hold you in bondage. Heretofore we have divided 
upon the principle of measures equally affecting every part 
of the nation. In 1*198, when measures tending to consoli- 
dation, threatening the liberty of speech and the press, were 
pursued, no geographical lines, marking the division be- 
tween slaveholding and non-slaveholding States, produced 
the sentiments of either party. The strife was betwixt 
honest and patriotic members of every community and every 
village. The consequences were often unhappy for a 
moment, but not dangerous to the whole family. The 


enmities which it occasioned were temporary, and would 
soon die a natural death. But when local residence be- 
comes the occasion of deep-rooted animosities, the conse- 
quences are always dangerous, and often fatal. Why, then, 
attempt a dangerous course when necessity does not de- 
mand it ? There is nothing in the legitimate exercise of 
the powers of the general government, touching any of the 
objects of the confederacy, which requires a single allusion 
to the subject of slavery in the States. Once in ten years 
it may possibly have its influence in fixing the ratio of 
representation ; and I believe, at the last census, the slave- 
holding States lost several representatives, by the superior 
management of the other States, in leaving the greatest 
fraction upon them. But, this being accidental and tempo- 
rary, was no subject of contention. 

On the present occasion, sir, you attempt impossibilities. 
You may injure, but you cannot benefit, the black popula- 
tion. If ever they enjoy freedom their emancipation must 
be gradual ; and it must be preceded by a progressive 
amelioration of their condition, to prepare them for liberty. 
The more you suffer them to disperse, the more rapidly you 
will accelerate this desirable state of things. The energies 
of the Christian world are now combined in the diffusion 
of evangelical light, and the principles which it inculcates 
are every day relaxing the bonds of slavery. 

Providence, all wise and inscrutable in its ways, is gradu- 
ally effecting the ultimate object of our wishes, which your 
ill-timed interposition is calculated only to retard. Indi- 
vidual exertion, acting in concert, can alone prepare the 
way. Encourage Sunday-schools ; multiply Bible societies ; 
increase missionary exertions ; animate to deeds of benevo- 
lence abolition societies, and perfect the system of coloniza- 
tion. Then trust the kind providence of God for the 
result, and you will perform the duties of Christians and 
patriots, in the service of God and his creatures. But till 


you can change the spots of the leopard, you cannot change 
the condition of the slaves by the illegitimate measures 
now proposed. You may violate the Constitution — you 
may impair the social compact by encroaching upon the 
sovereignty of the States, which is the palladium of our 
liberties — you may touch the right of property under the 
pretext of letting the captive go free ; you may essay to 
bind the people of Missouri, by prescribing to them con- 
ditions of legislation ; but your effort will be fruitless. You 
risk much and gain nothing. The people of Missouri are 
Americans. They have the right of self-government, and 
they will govern themselves. You may prepare chains for 
them, but, like Samson's cords, they will be as tow, and fall 
asunder like ropes of sand. These people are descendants 
of freemen. They are of the old stock who achieved your 
independence, and they will be free. Do you hope to 
abridge their sovereignty ? Their character is a pledge 
that they will not yield their rights. 

Whatever may be our anxiety for universal freedom, it 
is very certain that no sudden change can be effected. To 
attempt impossibilities will only expose our folly. God 
himself has taught us to wait patiently the operations of 
time, by his own example, in six days' employment in the 
formation of the world ; and while we find sufficient evil to 
awaken all our sensibilities, we should remember that man 
cannot renovate the world in one day. In the moral world, 
we see vices and crimes ; in the religious world, perse- 
cutions and martyrdoms ; in the political world, despotism 
and convulsions ; in the physical world, earthquakes and 
tornadoes. Who can renovate the heart of the vicious, and 
chasten the thoughts of the wicked ? Who can sustain the 
martyr upon the cross ? Who can hush the tempest in the 
political world, or control the destinies of nature ? He 
only, who holds the winds in the hollow of his hand. 
I charge you, then, to let patience have its perfect work ; 


and do not rashly disturb the balance of this harmonious 
political system. If you do, the blood will De upon your 
own heads. I have unshaken confidence in the providence 
of God, that he will, in his goodness, provide the ways and 
means of deliverance from this great evil, and that he will 
do it without violence or compulsion. But we are to 
choose the time, and effect in a day what cannot be accom- 
plished in years, without a miracle ; and this is to be done 
without respect to either the sentiments or rights of our 
neighbors. Instead of satisfying ourselves with the happy 
condition in which a kind Providence has placed us, we are 
to aspire, like our first parents in Eden, to become as gods ; 
and, for the sake of giving law to others, independent as 
ourselves, we are to set the whole nation in a state of com- 
motion. Beware, lest, like them, you should experience a 
sad reverse, and entail the curse upon posterity. We are 
to become constitution-makers, and give both the text and 
commentary. I was taught to believe in the doctrine of the 
Revolutionary patriots, vox populi vox Dei, but now the 
maxim is too antiquated to be regarded. I have been a 
disciple of the old school, which taught us to believe that 
all power belonged to the people ; and have ever admired 
the beautiful fabric of this Western empire, because it was 
calculated to secure the exercise of this power to each 
State, while it delegated to the federal government a suffi- 
cient portion, to provide for the common safety, and secure 
the harmony of its several parts; but this harmony is now 
to be disturbed ; this magna charta of our rights is to be 
broken ; this fair fabric is to be shaken, to gratify the lust 
of power; and Congress, deriving all its authority from the 
States, is to prescribe to the States the limits of their con- 
stitutional prerogative. I would not impeach the political 
sagacity of this body ; but such is my confidence in the vir- 
tue and talents of the community, that, in my opinion, 
every ten miles square in the United States is as competent 


as the whole collected wisdom of the nation to frame a con- 
stitution. Competent or nut, the people of Missouri have 
the right, and they must exercise it without any restriction 
which is not common to all the States. U you begin to 
prescribe restrictions, you may pursue the course without 
limitation or control. You may prescribe the qualifications 
of electors and candidates ; the powers and organization 
of every branch of their government, till self-government is 
lost, and their liberty is but an empty name. The doctrine, 
sir, is alarming. But one security from its baleful influence 
is in the independence of the people. They will not sub- 
mit. It is not the question whether the thing required is 
right or wrong in itself, but whether you have the right to 
impose it. The principle of taxation, or the amount levied, 
had no influence in bringing on the American Revolution ; 
but the right of Parliament, in which the colonics had no 
representation, to impose the tax. They persisted, and a 
bloody war ensued ; and the decision was in favor of that 
side where justice was. 

I exhort to moderation and justice. Look at the starving 
poor in England. Hear the clanking chains of despotism 
throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa. The cries of op- 
pression are heard in every region, and the cause of injured 
humanity rends every American bosom. But will our com- 
miseration justify our interference ? Shall we become a 
nation of knight-errants, and involve the country in war 
with all the rest of the world to establish free government 
in other quarters of the globe ? We may pity other na- 
tions, but we have no right to intermeddle with their poli- 
cies ; and to attempt it would be the extreme of madness. 
Still more cautious should we be about intermeddling with 
the right of property and self-government in Missouri. In 
so doing, you will jeopardize the harmony of the Union, 
which may possibly ultimate in a civil war. Recollect, 
Greece was destroyed bv division, and Rome by consolida- 


tion. Then let us be content with our inheritance, and 
profit by their example ; lest, in our zeal to perform what 
we cannot accomplish, we one day become what Greece 
and Rome now are. 

I will readily admit, sir, that the non-slaveholding States 
are composed of brave and virtuous citizens, but merit does 
not exclusively attach to them. We will not shrink from 
the comparison, whether we look at periods or principles — 
the Revolution, the late war ; internal policy, republican 
principles, moral character, or religious practice. The 
authors of this discussion are welcome to all the advantages 
they can derive from the comparison. There is no essential 
difference of character among all the different sections 
of this community. A general coincidence of sentiment 
strengthens their mutual attachments, which I trust the 
demon of discord will never be able to dissolve. Yes, sir, 
the Union is founded in the affections of the people, 
cemented by the blood of our fathers, endeared by common 
suffering, and secured by common interest. Future gene- 
rations, remembering that their fathers mingled their blood 
in one common cause, and their ashes in one common urn, 
will still feel like brothers, when ambition shall have wasted 
its efforts ; and the blessings of the confederacy shall bo 
long enjoyed after oblivion shall have drawn a vail over the 
disturbers of its peace. The history of other nations is 
before us, and they should be marked as beacons of warn- 
ing. Remember the unhappy record of the ten tribes of 
Israel, and the miserable consequences, whenever you con- 
template the effects of local jealousies. Before we are 
aware, we are too apt to excite our own passions as well as 
others, and rush precipitately into measures which will 
leave us to regret our folly when it shall be too late to 

But another cause of complaint is recently brought to 
light. In the ratio of representation and direct taxation, 


three-fifths of the slaves are enumerated. The Constitution 
was framed by patriots of the Revolution ; and the prin- 
ciples of that event were too deeply engraven upon their 
minds to suffer them to separate the ratio of representation 
from that of taxation; and, by mutual compromise, the 
ratio was settled by all the States as we now have it. But, 
it the organization of this branch of the Legislature, there 
is a total departure from this rule. Upon what principle 
does the little State of Delaware send two members to this 
body, and the great State of New York send no more ? 
This also was settled upon a principle of compromise. It 
is, that State sovereignties may be here represented, and, 
in the confederacy the States, are all equal. The federal 
character is here preserved ; and, in the other House, the 
representative character. In one house every State is 
equal, in the other every individual ; and none would wish 
it otherwise. 

In what way, I would ask, is the just principle of repre- 
sentation violated, by taking three-fifths of the slaves into 
the calculation ? The answer is given, because slaves have 
no political rights. And what political rights have the 
female and the minor ? And how many free persons of full 
age are excluded from the exercise of the elective franchise 
in the different States ? Yet all are taken into the enume- 
ration as the basis for representation. Why ? Because 
they are also taken into the enumeration for taxation ; so 
are three-fifths of the slaves taken into the enumeration as 
the basis for taxation, and of course for representation. In 
the one case no complaint is made, but in the other injustice 
is urged. Every argument, true or false, must be brought 
to bear upon the subject ; which, in the end, will effect 
nothing, and is, in fact, worse than nothing. 

There is another article of the Constitution, which is 
thought to have some relation to this intended restriction. 
u Congress shall guarantee to each State a republican form 


of government ;" and here we have a controlling powe. 
Suppose, then, you erect your standard of republicanism, 
and revise the constitutions of the different States. Vir- 
ginia requires a freehold qualification in the voter. Dictate 
to her better principles. Most of the other States require 
some property qualifications. Change their constitutions, 
and proclaim annual elections and universal suffrage, such 
as we have in Kentucky, where every person is equal ; and 
the beggar (if such a being can be found there) has as 
good a vote as the man of wealth. Attempt these things, 
and you will have enough to do ; but you may accomplish 
it as easily, and upon as fair Constitutional ground, as the 
restriction upon Missouri. The fact is, we shall be better 
employed in confining ourselves to the great objects of 
the confederacy, and leave every State to manage its own 

Philosophers have said much upon the theory of colors, 
and especially upon the variety of complexion in the human 
species. It is contended by some that the black man, the 
red man, and the white man, originally sprang from different 
ancestors ; by others that all sprang from one common 
stock ; and the last theory is supported by revelation. It 
is further believed, that the difference of color, from the 
slightest shade to the deepest black, is owing principally to 
climate, and the different degrees of heat to which they have 
been for many ages exposed. To whatever cause it may be 
owing, the difference does now exist ; and it is as well known 
that a universal prejudice also exists as to the color of the 
African, which in a great measure deprives him of the bless- 
ings of freedom when emancipated. Till this prejudice is 
eradicated, or till the Ethiopian shall change his skin, his 
freedom is nominal in every part of the United States. If 
not, where is the black man of the north ? Like the red 
man, he is nearly extinct. If your humanity has conquered 
your prejudice, till you know no color, where are your 


magistrates, your governors, your representatives, of the 
black population ? You proclaim them equal, but you are 
still their lawgivers; we Bee none of them in the national 
legislature, nor hear of them in your Statu governments. 
The prejudices which these distinctions of color create can- 
not be overcome in a moment, and we should contentedly 
wait that gradual change in the moral world — that slow but 
certain progress of improvement, which will one day give 
universal liberty to the race of Adam. 

One insurmountable, I may say omnipotent barrier with 
us, against this sudden revolution, is, the number of our 
slaves. It would produce convulsions and derangements, 
destructive to the morals and safety of the whole com- 
munity. But liberty has charms, and so has music ; but 
was there anything captivating in Nero's harp while Koine 
was enveloped in flames ? Let the safety of the common- 
wealth be first secured, and then extend the blessings of 
freedom as time shall prepare them to enjoy it, with advan- 
tage to themselves and tranquillity to the State. 

The sages of our Revolution were not so conscientious 
as to make emancipation a sine qua nan to a Union against 
British encroachments ; nor did they ever think of interfer- 
ing in the subject of slavery with the States. That was 
left with God and the consciences of those interested. 
Slaveholders and others could march under one standard in 
the common cause. Washington and Greene could move 
in perfect concert of action ; Hancock and Jefferson could 
act in harmony of council, without one discordant passion 
on this account. Nor did the wise framers of the Consti- 
tution essay to give it the slightest touch. Even a part of 
the New England States voted against the power of Con- 
gress to check the importation of slaves for twenty years. 
But now, when all political animosities are subsiding, and 
every angry passion is sinking to rest, the golden apple 
must be thrown. Political power and personal aggrandize- 


merit must arise, and light the torch of discord among this 
happy, this virtuous, this affectionate people. Keep in 
mind the theory of our general government. We have no 
original powers. We act as an agent would under a spe- 
cial power of attorney; and the Constitution is the charter 
by which we act. The powers delegated are there defined. 
Those not expressly delegated are reserved to the States, 
or to the people. To transcend the powers prescribed by 
the Constitution, is to violate the rights of the States and 
of the people. Congress have no power delegated to 
them by the Constitution to impose a restriction like this 
upon any of the States ; nor can it be pretended, unless by 
that kind of legerdemain construction which would make 
Congress omnipotent, and render the sovereignties a mere 
shadow, that this text book of the American statesman 
contains a single clause even hinting at the delegation of 
this power. The imposition of this restriction upon Mis- 
souri, then, would be a violation of the Constitution ; and, 
however plausible the pretext, the principle is equally dan- 
gerous to the Union. 

I have entertained doubts as to the wisdom of the or- 
ganization of this body in the tenure of office. Six years 
I have thought too long ; that the member did not feel 
sufficient responsibility to the elective principle. But, on 
this interesting occasion, I can see great evils, which we 
have it in our power more effectually to prevent, and thus 
give proof to the world that we are worthy of this trust. 
The examples of Greece, of Carthage, and of Rome show 
us the danger of being moved by a momentary excitement 
of popular passion ; but, when time for sober reasoning 
shall have elapsed, the popular sentiment, the result of dis- 
passionate deliberation, must prevail. This body is pecu- 
liarly formed for that deliberation ; and when I behold 
around me those who have gone through the gradation 
of every office of honor and of trust — who have withstood 


every trial, and now bear upou their hoary heads the 
crown of honor — elected by their fellow-citizens to this sta- 
tion, I feel a confidence that they will sustain the cause of 
the Union. Then, when this excitement shall subside, the 
deliberate, settled sentiment of the people will justify your 
decision. But, should your determination to effect this re- 
striction so completely overcome every consideration of 
right, that you deem it paramount to all constitution and 
compact, you will pay dearly for the object. Victory will 
be worse than a defeat. You will violate the plighted faith 
of the nation, under the sacred sanction of your own laws, 
which have heretofore held out an invitation to the citizen^ 
of every section of the country to embrace the advantages 
which this newly-acquired wilderness promised. You will 
violate the solemn stipulations of the treaty by which this 
territory was trained. You will violate the Constitution 
of the United States, that sacred instrument which once had 
power to compose the jarring interests and passions of 
the nation ; the offspring of our former suffering ; the 
pledge of our future harmony ; and the standing bulwark 
of our liberty and independence. You will alarm the fears 
and destroy the confidence of the States, by abridging their 
prerogatives and usurping their rights. You will check 
the progress of humanity, and strengthen the chains of the 
captive. You will prolong the time of slavery, and aug- 
ment its evils. Y"ou will divide the sentiments and affec- 
tions by hills and dales, by rivers and mountains, and by 
imaginary lines, drawn only for convenience, and not for hos- 
tility. You will excite to action every discordant passion 
of the soul ; produce jargon, animosity, and strife, which 
may eventuate in murder and devastation. And shall I 
proceed to enumerate the crimes which belong to this black 
catalogue ? The heart sickens, the tongue falters, and I 
forbear. Ponder well your doings ; let wisdom and justice 
direct you ; confine your measures to the legitimate object 


of the confederacy, and we are still a united and happy- 

Mr. Pinckney, of South Carolina, the only member of 
Congress who was a member of the Federal Convention, 
addressed the chair as follows : 

Mr. Chairman : It was not my intention at first, and it is 
not now my wish, to rise on this important question ; one 
that has been so much and so ably discussed in both 
branches of Congress ; one that has been the object of so 
many meetings of the people of the different States, and of 
so many resolutions of the legislatures, and instructions to 
their members : but I am so particularly circumstanced that 
it is impossible to avoid it. Coming from one of the most 
important of the Southern States, whose interests are 
deeply involved, and representing here a city and district 
which, I believe, export more of our native products than 
any other in the Union ; having been also a member of the 
Old Congress, some important acts of which are brought 
into question on this occasion, and, above all, being the 
only member of the General Convention which formed 
the Constitution of the United Slates, now on this floor, 
and on whose acts rest the great question in controversy, 
how far you are or are not authorized to adopt this measure, 
it will, from all these circumstances, be seen that it is im- 
possible for me to avoid requesting your permission to state 
some observations in support of the vote I shall give on a 
question, certainly, the most important that can come be- 
fore Congress ; one, to say the least of it, on which may 
depend, not only the peace, the happiness, and the best in- 
terests, but, not improbably, the existence of that Union 
which has been, since its formation, the admiration of the 
world, and the pride, the glory, and the boast of every 
American bosom that beats within it. 

In performing this solemn duty, I trust I shall do it with 
that deference to the opinions of others which it is always 


my duty to show on this respectable floor, and that I shall 
be as short as the nature of the subject will permit, and 
completely moderate. Indeed, in questions of this impor- 
tance, moderation appears to me to be indispensable to the 
discovery of truth. I, therefore, lament extremely 
so much warmth has been unnecessarily excited, and shall, 
in the remarks I may make, studiously do, what I con- 
ceive the decorum of debate ought to enjoin upon every 

At the time I left, or sailed from the city I here repre- 
sent, scarcely a word was said of the Missouri question ; 
no man there ever supposed that one of such magnitude 
was before you. I, therefore, have, since the serious aspect 
this subject has assumed, received numerous inquiries on it, 
and wishes to know my opinion as to the extent and con- 
sequences of it. I have candidly replied, that, so far as 
respects the regaining an ascendency on both the floors 
of Congress ; of regaining the possession of the honors and 
offices of our government ; aud of, through this measure, 
laying the foundation of forever securing their ascendency, 
and the powers of the government, the Eastern and North- 
ern States had a high and deep interest. That, so far as 
respects the retaining the honors and offices and the powers 
of the government, and the preventing the establishment 
of principles to interfere with them, the Southern and 
Western States had equal interest with the Northern. But 
that, when we consider to what lengths the right of Con- 
gress to touch the question of slavery at all might reach, it 
became one, indeed, of tremendous import. 

Among the reasons which have induced me to rise, one is 
to express my surprise. Surprise, did I say ? I ought 
rather to have said, my extreme astonishment, at the as- 
sertion I heard made on both floors of Congress, that, in 
forming the Constitution of the United States, and particu- 
larly that part of it which respects the representation on this 


floor, the Northern and Eastern States, or, as they are now 
called, the non-slaveholding States, have made a great con- 
cession to the Southern, in granting them a representation- 
of three-fifths of their slaves ; that they saw the concession 
was a very great and important one at the time, but that 
they had no idea it would so soon have proved itself of 
such consequence ; that it would so soon have proved itself 
to be by far the most important concession that had been 
made. They say, that it was wrung from from them by 
their affection to the Union, and their wish to preserve it 
from dissolution or disunion ; that they had, for a long 
time, lamented they had made it ; and that if it was to do 
over, no earthly consideration should again tempt them to 
agree to so unequal and so ruinous a compromise. By 
this, I suppose, Mr. Chairman, is meant that they could 
have had no idea that the Western and Southern States 
would have grown with the rapidity they have, and filled so 
many of the seats in this House : in other words, that they 
would so soon have torn the sceptre from the East. 

It was, sir, for the purpose of correcting this great and 
unpardonable error; unpardonable, because it is a wilful 
one, and the error of it is well-known to the ablest of those 
who make it ; of denying the assertion, and proving that 
the contrary is the fact, and that the concession, on that 
occasion, was from the Southern and not the Northern 
States, that, among others, I have risen. 

It is of the greatest consequence that the proof I am 
about to give should be laid before this nation ; for, as the 
inequality of representation is the great ground on which 
the Northern and Eastern States have always, and now 
more particularly and forcibly than ever, raised all their 
complaints on this subject, if I can show and prove that 
they have not even a shadow of right to make pretenses or 
complaints ; that they are as fully represented as they ought 
to be ; while we, the Southern members, are unjustly de- 


prived of any representation for a large and important part 
of our population, more valuable to the Union, as can be 
shown, than any equal number of inhabitants in the North- 
ern and Eastern States can, from their situation, climate, 
and productions, possibly be. If I can prove this, I think 
I shall be able to show most clearly the true motives which 
have given rise to this measure ; to strip the thin, the cob- 
web veil from it, as well as the pretended ones of religion, 
humanity, and love of liberty ; and to show, to use the soft 
terms the decorum of debate obliges me to use, the extreme 
want of modesty in those who are already as fully repre- 
sented here as they can be, to go the great lengths they do 
in endeavoring, by every effort in their power, public and 
private, to take from the Southern and Western States, 
which are already so greatly and unjustly deprived of an 
important part of the representation, a still greater share ; 
to endeavor to establish the first precedent, which extreme 
rashness and temerity have ever presumed, that Congress 
has a right to touch the question and legislate on slavery ; 
thereby shaking the property in them, in the Southern and 
Western States, to its very foundation, and making an 
attack which, if successful, must convince them that the 
Northern and Eastern States are their greatest enemies ; 
that they are preparing measures for them which even 
Great Britain, in the heat of the Revolutionary war, and 
when all her passions were roused by hatred and revenge 
to the highest pitch, never ventured to inflict upon them. 
Instead of a course like this, they ought, in my judgment, 
sir, to be highly pleased with their present situation ; that 
they are fully represented, while we have lost so great a 
share of our representation ; they ought, sir, to be highly 
pleased at the dexterity and managament of their members 
in the Convention, who obtained for them this great advan- 
tage ; and, above all, with the moderation and forbearance 
with which the Southern and Western States have always 


borne their bitter provocations on this subject, and now 
bear the open, avowed, and, by many of the ablest men 
among them, undisguised attack on our most valuable rights 
and properties. 

At the commencement of our revolutionary struggle with 
Great Britain, all the States had slaves. The New England 
States had numbers of them, and treated them in the same 
manner the Southern did. The Northern and Middle 
States had still more numerous bodies of them, although 
not so numerous as the Southern. They all entered into 
that great contest with similar views, properties, and de- 
signs. Like brethren, they contended for the benefit of the 
whole, leaving to each the right to pursue its happiness in 
its own way. 

They thus nobly toiled and bled together, really like 
brethren ; and it is a most remarkable fact that, notwith- 
standing in the course of the Revolution the Southern 
States were continually overrun by the British, and that 
every negro in them had an opportunity of leaving their 
owners, few did ; proving thereby not only a most remark- 
able attachment to their owners, but the mildness of the 
treatment, from which their affection sprang. They then 
were, as they still are, as valuable a part of our population 
to the Union as any other equal number of inhabitants. 
They were, in numerous instances, the pioneers, and in all, 
the laborers of your armies. To their hands were owing 
the erection of the greatest part of the fortifications raised 
for the protection of our country ; some of which, particu- 
larly Fort Moultrie, gave, at that early period of the in- 
experience and untried valor of our citizens, immortality 
to American arms ; and in the Northern States numerous 
bodies of them were enrolled into and fought, by the sides 
of the whites, the battles of the Revolution. 

Things went on in this way until the period of our 
attempt to form our first national compact, the confedera- 


tion, in which the equality of vote was preserved, and the 
first squeamishness on the subject of not using, or even 
alluding to the word slavery, or making it a part of our 
political machinery, was shown. In this compact, the value 
of the lands and improvements was made the rule for appor- 
tioning the public burdens and taxes. But the Northern 
and Eastern States, who are always much more alive to their 
interests than the Southern, found that their squeamishness 
was inconsistent with their interest ; and, as usual, made 
the latter prevail. They found it was paying too dear for 
their qualms to keep their hand from the slaves any longer. 
At their instance, and on their motion, as will appear by 
a reference to the journals of the old Congress, the making 
lands the rule was changed, and people, including the whites 
and three-fifths of other descriptions, was adopted. It was 
not until in 1*781, that the confederation was adopted by, 
and became binding on all the States. This miserable, 
feeble mockery of government crawled on until H85, when, 
from New York's refusing to agree with all the States to 
grant to Congress the impost, (I am not sure, but I believe 
she stood alone in the refusal,) the States determined no 
longer to put up with her conduct, and absolutely rebelled 
against the government. The first State that did so was 
New Jersey, who, by a solemn act passed in all its proper 
forms by her legislature and government, most positively 
and absolutely refused any longer to obey the requisitions 
of Congress, or to pay another dollar. As there was no 
doubt other States would soon follow their example — as 
Pennsylvania shortly did — Congress, aware of the mischiefs 
which must arise if a dissolution took place of the Union 
before a new government could be formed, sent a deputation 
of their own body to address the legislature of New Jersey, 
of which I was appointed chairman. We did repair there, 
and addressed them, and I had the honor and happiness to 
carry back with me to Congress the repeal of her act by 


New Jersey — a State, during the whole of the revolution- 
ary war, celebrated for her patriotism, and who, in this 
noble self-denial, and forgetfulness of injuries inflicted by 
New York on her and the rest of the Union, exhibited a dis- 
interestedness and love of Union which did her the highest 

The revolt of New Jersey and Pennsylvania accelerated 
the new Constitution. On a motion from Virginia the 
Convention met at Philadelphia, where as you will find 
from the journals, we were repeatedly in danger of dis- 
solving without doing any thing; that body being equally 
divided as to large and small States, and each having a vote, 
and the small States insisting most pertinaciously, for near 
six weeks, on equal power in both branches — nothing but 
the prudence and forbearance of the large States saved the 
Union. A compromise was made, that the small States 
and large should be equally represented in the Senate, and 
proportionally in the House of Representatives. I am now 
arrived at the reason for which I have, sir, taken the liberty 
to make these preliminary remarks. For, as the true motive 
for all this dreadful clamor throughout the Union, this 
serious and eventful attack on our most sacred and valuable 
rights and properties, is, to gain a fixed ascendency in the 
representation in Congress ; and, as the only flimsy excuse 
under which the Northern and Eastern States shelter them- 
selves, is, that they have been hardly treated in the repre- 
sentation in this House, and that they have lost the benefit 
of the compromise they pretend was made, and which I shall 
most positively deny, and show that nothing like a compro- 
mise was ever intended. 

By all the public expenses being borne by indirect taxes, 
and not direct, as was expected ; if I can show that all their 
pretensions and claims are wholly untrue and unfounded, and 
that while they are fully represented, they did, by force, or 
something like it, deprive us of a rightful part of our repre- 


sentation, I shall then be able to take the mask from all their 
pretended reasons and excuses, and show this unpardonable 
attack, this monster, in its true and uncovered hideousness. 

Long before our present public distresses had conviuced 
even the most ignorant and uninformed politician of the 
truth of the maxim I am about to mention, all the well-in- 
formed statesmen of our Union knew that the only true mode 
for a large agricultural and commercial country to flourish 
was, never to import more than they can pay for by the ex- 
port of their own native products ; that, if they do, they will 
be sure to plunge themselves into the distressing and dis- 
graceful situation this country is id at present. 

If, then, this great political truth or maxim, or call it what 
you please, is most unquestionable, let us now see who sup- 
ports this government ; who raises your armies, equips your 
navies, pays your public debt, enables you to erect forts, 
arsenals, and dock-yards. Who nerves the arm of this gov- 
ernment, and enables you to lift it for the protection, the 
honor, and extension of our beloved republic into regions 
where none but brutes and savages have before roamed ? 
Who are your real sinews in war, and the best — I had almost 
said, nearly the only — sinews and sources of your commerce 
in peace ? I will presently tell you. 

If, as no doubt, you will in future confine your imports 
to the amount of your exports of native products, and all 
your revenue is to be, as it is now, raised by taxes or duties 
on your imports, I ask you who pays the expense, and who, 
in fact, enables you to go on with your government at all, 
and prevents its wheels from stopping ? I will show you 
by the papers which I hold in my hand. This, sir, is your 
Secretary of the Treasury's report, made a few weeks ago, 
by which it appears that all the exports of native products, 
from Maine to Pennsylvania inclusive, for the last year, 
amounted to only about eighteen millions of dollars ; while 
those among the slaveholding States, to the southward of 


Pennsylvania, amounted to thirty-two millions or thereabouts, 
thereby enabling themselves, or acquiring the right, to im- 
port double as much as the others, and furnishing the trea- 
sury with double the amount the Northern and Eastern 
States do. And here let me ask, from whence do these ex- 
ports arise ? By whose hands are they made ? I answer, 
entirely by the slaves ; and yet these valuable inhabitants, 
without whom your very government could not go on, and 
the labor of two or three of whom in the Southern States is 
more valuable to it than the labor of five of their inhabitants 
in the Eastern States, the States owning and possessing 
them are denied a representation but for three-fifths on this 
floor, while the whole of the comparatively unproductive 
inhabitants of the Northern and Eastern States are fully 
represented here. Is it just — is this equal ? And yet they 
have the modesty to complain of the representation, as un- 
just and unequal ; and that they have not the return made 
them they expected, by taxing the slaves, and making them 
bear a proportion of the public burdens. Some writers on 
political economy are of opinion that the representation of 
a State ought always to be equally founded on population 
and taxation. It is my duty to believe that these are the 
true criterions ; for my own State (South Carolina) having, 
in her House of Representatives, 124 members, 62 of them 
are apportioned by the white population, and 62 on taxa- 
tion ; thus representing the contributions of our citizens in 
every way, whether arising from services or taxes. 

Before I proceed to the other parts of this question, I 
have thus endeavored to give a new view of the subject of 
representation in the House ; to show how much more the 
Eastern and Northern States are represented than the South- 
ern and Western ; how little right the former have to com- 
plain, and how unreasonable it is, that while to continue the 
balance of representation in the Senate, we consent to give 
admission to Maine, to make up for Missouri, they most 


unconscionably require to have both, and thus add four to 
the number now preparing, most cruelly, to lift the arm of 
the government against the property of the Southern and 
Western States. 

If I have succeeded, as I hope I have, in proving the un- 
reasonableness of the complaints of the Eastern and North- 
ern States on the subject of representation, it would, I sup- 
pose, appear extraordinary to the people of this nation that 
this attempt should now be made, even if Congress should 
be found to possess the right to legislate or interfere in it. 
But if, in addition to this, it should be in my power to show 
that they have not the most distant right to interfere, or to 
legislate at all upon the subject of slavery, or to admit a 
State in any way whatever except on terms of perfect 
equality ; that they have no right to make compacts on the 
subject, and that the only power they have is to see that the 
government of the State to be admitted is a republican one, 
having legislative, executive, and judiciary powers, the rights 
of conscience, jury, a habeas corpus, and all the great lead- 
ing principles of our republican systems, well secured, and to 
guarantee them to it : if I shall be able to do this, of course 
the attempt must fail, and the amendment be rejected. 

The supporters of the amendment contend that Congress 
have the right to insist on the prevention of involuntary 
servitude in Missouri ; and found the right on the ninth 
section of the first article, which says, " the migration or 
importation of such persons as the States now existing may 
think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Con- 
gress prior to the year 1808, but a tax or duty may be im- 
posed on such importation not exceeding ten dollars." 

In considering this article, I will detail, as far as at this 
distant period is possible, what was the intention of the 
Convention that formed the Constitution in this article. 
The inteution was, to give Congress a power, after the year 
1808, to prevent the importation of slaves either by land or 


water from other countries. The word import, includes 
both, and applies wholly to slaves. Without this limita- 
tion, Congress might have stopped it sooner under their 
general power to regulate commerce ; and it was an agreed 
point, a solemnly understood compact, that, on the Southern 
States consenting to shut their ports against the importa- 
tion of Africans, no power was to be delegated to Congress, 
nor were they ever to be authorized to touch the question of 
slavery ; that the property of the Southern States in slaves 
was to be as sacredly preserved, and protected to them, as 
that of land, or any other kind of property in the Eastern 
States were to be to their citizens. 

The term, or word, migration, applies wholly to free 
whites ; in its constitutional sense, as intended by the 
Convention, it means "voluntary change of servitude," 
from one country to another. The reasons of its being 
adopted and used in the Constitution, as far as I can recol- 
lect, were these : that the Constitution being a frame of 
government, consisting wholly of delegated powers, all 
power, not expressly delegated, being reserved to the people 
or the States, it was supposed, that, without some express 
grant to them of power on the subject, Congress would not 
be authorized ever to touch the question of migration hither, 
or emigration to this country, however pressing or urgent 
the necessity for such a measure might be ; that they could 
derive no such power from the usages of nations, or even 
the laws of war ; that the latter would only enable them to 
make prisoners of alien enemies, which would not be suffi- 
cient, as spies or other dangerous emigrants, who were not 
alien enemies, might enter the country for treasonable pur- 
poses, and do great injury ; that, as all governments pos- 
sessed this power, it was necessary to give it to our own, which 
could alone exercise it, and where, on other and much 
greater points, we had placed unlimited confidence ; it was, 
therefore, agreed that, in the same article, the word migra- 


tion should be placed ; and that, from the year 1808, Con- 
gress should possess the complete power to stop either or 
both, as they might suppose the public interest required ; 
the article, therefore, is a negative pregnant, restraining for 
twenty years, and giving the power after. 

The reasons for restraining the power to prevent migra- 
tion hither for twenty years, were, to the best of my recol- 
lection, these : That as, at this time, we had immense and 
almost immeasurable territory, peopled by not more than 
two millions and a half of inhabitants, it was of very great 
consequence to encourage the emigration of able, skillful, 
and industrious Europeans. The wise conduct of William 
Penn, and the unexampled growth of Pennsylvania, were 
cited. It was said, that the portals of the only. temple of 
true freedom now existing on earth should be thrown open 
to all mankind ; that all foreigners of industrious habits 
should be welcome, and none more so than men of science, and 
such as may bring to us arts we are unacquainted with, or the 
means of perfecting those in which we are not yet sufficiently 
skilled — capitalists whose wealth may add to our commerce 
or domestic improvements ; let the door be ever and most 
affectionately open to illustrious exiles and sufferers in the 
cause of liberty ; in short, open it liberally to science, to 
merit, and talents, wherever found, and receive and make 
them your own. That the safest mode would be to pursue 
the course for twenty years, and not, before that period, put 
it at all into the power of Congress to shut it ; that, by that 
time, the Union would be so settled, and our population 
would be so much increased, we could proceed on our own 
stock, without the farther accession of foreigners ; that as 
Congress were to be prohibited from stopping the importa- 
tion of slaves to settle the Southern States, as no obstacle 
■was to be thrown in the way of their increase and settle- 
ment for that period, let it be so with the Northern and 
Eastern, to which, particularly New York and Philadelphia, 


it was expected most of the emigrants would go from 
Europe : aDd it so happened, for, previous to the year 1808, 
more than double as many Europeans emigrated to these 
States, as of Africans were imported into the Southern 

I have, sir, smiled at the idea of some gentlemen, in sup- 
posing that Congress possessed the power to insert this 
amendment, from that which is given in the Constitution to 
regulate commerce between the several States ; and some 
have asserted, that under it, they not only have the power to 
inhibit slavery in Missouri, but even to prevent the migra- 
tion of slaves from one State to another — from Maryland to 
Virginia. The true and peculiarly ludicrous manner in which 
a gentleman from that State lately treated this part of the 
subject, will, no doubt, induce an abandonment of this pre- 
tended right ; nor shall I stop to answer it until gentlemen 
can convince me that migration does not mean change of 
residence from one country or climate to another, and that 
the United States are not one country, one nation, or one 
people. If the word does mean as I contend, and we are 
one people, I will then ask how it is possible to migrate 
from one part of a country to another part of the same 
country ? Surely, sir, when such straws as these are caught 
at to support a right, the hopes of doing so must be slender 
indeed. I will only mention here, as it is perfectly within 
my recollection, that the power was given to Congress to 
regulate the commerce by water between the States ; and it 
being feared, by the Southern, that the Eastern would, when- 
ever they could, do so to the disadvantage of the Southern 
States, you will find, in the 6th section of the 1st article, 
Congress, are prevented from taxing exports, or giving 
preference to the ports of one State over another, or 
obliging vessels bound from one State to clear, enter, oi 
pay duties in another ; which restrictions, more clearly than 


anything else, prove what the power to regulate commerce 
among the several States means. 

The gentlemen, being driven from these grounds, come 
then to what they call their great and impregnable right — 
that, under the third section of the fourth article, it is 
declared, new States may be admitted into this Union by 
the Congress; and that, by the latter elausc of the same 
section, the Congress shall have power to dispose of, and 
make all needful rules and regulations, respecting the terri- 
tory or other property belonging to the United States. 

By the first clause they contend, that Congress has an 
ample and unlimited command over the whole subject ; that 
they can reject the admission of a State altogether, or can 
admit one, and impose such conditions, or make such com- 
pacts with a State as they may please ; and that, unless a 
State accepts the offers they may make, they may refuse her 
admission. Let us first iucpiire what the laws of nations 
call a State. Yattel says, "Nations or States are bodies 
politic : societies of men united together to procure their 
mutual safety and advantage by means of their union. Such 
a society has its affairs and interests ; it deliberates and 
resolves in common, and thus becomes a moral person, hav- 
ing an understanding and a will peculiar to itself, and is 
susceptible of obligations and laws." This is what he, calls 
a State. What do we call one ? A territory inhabited by 
a people living under a government formed by themselves, 
which government possesses, in a republican form, all the 
legislative, executive, and judiciary powers necessary to the 
protection of the lives, liberties, characters and properties 
of their citizens, or which they can exercise for their benefit, 
and have not delegated to the general government, for the 
common defense and general welfare of a union, composed 
of a number of States, whose rights and political powers are 
all perfectly equal ; that, among these, one of the most im- 
portant is, that of deciding for themselves what kind of per- 


sons shall inhabit their country, no others being either so 
capable or fit to judge on this very important point as 
respects their private happiness as themselves, as they alone 
are either to suffer or benefit from the injudicious or wise 
choice they may make ; that as the other States possess 
completely this power, Missouri has the same right ; that, 
if she was inclined, she could not give to Congress the right 
to decide for her, nor could the latter accept it ; that all the 
inhabitants of Missouri being against the prohibition, to 
insist on it, is to entirely put it out of her power to enter 
the Union, and to keep her in a state of colonial tyranny ; 
that, if you can exercise this right, where will you stop ? 
May you not dictate to her the nature of the government 
she shall have? may you not give her a plural executive, a 
legislature for six and judges for one year ? If you say 
there shall be no slavery, may you not say there shall be no 
marriage ? may you not insist on her being different in 
every respect from the others ? Sir, if you are determined 
to break the Constitution in this important point, you may 
even proceed to do so in the essences of the very form you 
are bound to guarantee to them. Instead of endeavoring to 
lessen or injure the force and spirit of the State govern- 
ments, every true friend of his country ought to endeavor, 
as far as he can, to strengthen them ; for, be assured, it 
will be to the strength and increase of our State govern- 
ments, more than any other, that the American Republic 
will owe its firmness and duration. 

The people of Europe, from their total ignorance of our 
country and government, have always augured that its great 
extent, when it came to be thickly peopled, would occasion 
its separation ; this is still the opinion of all, and the hope 
of many there ; whereas, nothing can be more true in our 
politics than that, in proportion to the increase of the State 
governments, the strength and solidity of the federal 
Government are augmented j so that with twenty or twenty- 


two governments, we shall be much more secure from dis- 
union than with twelve, and ten times more so than if wo 
were a single or consolidated one. By the individual States 
exercising, as they do, all the powers necessary for munici- 
pal or individual purposes — trying all questions of property, 
and punishing all crimes not belonging, in either case, to 
the federal courts, and leaving the general government at 
leisure and in a situation solely to devote itself to the exer- 
cise of the great powers of war and peace, commerce, and 
our connections with foreigners, and all the natural authori- 
ties delegated by the Constitution, it eases them of a vast 
quantity of business that would very much disturb the 
exercise of their general powers. Nor is it clear that any 
single government, in a country so extensive, could transmit 
the full influence of the laws necessary to local purposes 
through all its parts ; whereas, the State governments, 
having all a convenient surrounding territory, exercise these 
powers with ease, and are always at hand to give aid to 
the federal tribunals and officers placed among them to 
execute their laws, should assistance be necessary. Another 
great advantage is, the almost utter impossibility of erect- 
ing among them the standard of faction, to any alarming 
degree, against the Union, so as to threaten its dissolution, 
or produce changes in any but a constitutional way. It is 
well known that faction is always much more easy and 
dangerous in small than large countries ; and, when we con- 
sider that, to the security afforded by the extent of our 
territory are to be added, the guards of the State legisla- 
tures, which being selected as they are, and always the most 
proper organs of their citizens' opinions as to the measures 
of the general government, stand as alert and faithful sentinels 
to disapprove, as they did in the times that are past, such acts 
as appear impolitic or unconstitutional, orto approve and sup- 
port, as they have frequently done since, such as were patri- 
otic or praiseworthy. With such guards it is impossible for 


any serious opposition to be made to the federal government 
on slight' or trivial grounds ; nor, through such an extent of 
territory or number of States, would any but the most tyran- 
nical or corrupt acts claim serious attention ; and, whenever 
they occur, we can always safely trust to a sufficient number 
of the States arraying themselves in a manner to produce 
by their influence the necessary reforms in a peaceable and 
legal mode. With twenty-four or more States it will be 
impossible, sir, for four or five States, or any comparatively 
small number, ever to threaten the existence of the Union. 
They will be easily seen through by the other eighteen or 
twenty, and frowned into insignificancy and submission to 
the general will, in all cases where the proceedings of the 
federal government are approved by them. And, even in 
cases where doubts may arise as to the wisdom or policy of 
their measures, all factious measures will be made to wait 
constitutional redress in the peaceable manner prescribed 
by the Constitution. 

Without the instrumentality of the States, in a country 
so large and free, and with their government at a great dis- 
tance from its extremities, there would be considerable 
danger of faction ; but at present there is very little, and, 
as the States increase, the danger will lessen ; and it is this 
admirable expanding principle or system, if I may use the 
term, which, while it carries new States and governments 
into our forests, and increases the population and resources 
of the Union, must unquestionably, at the same time, add 
to its means to resist and repress with ease all attacks of 
foreign hostility or domestic faction. It is this system, 
which is not at all understood in Europe and too little 
among ourselves, that will long keep us a strong and united 
people ; nor do I see any question, but the one which 
respects slavery, that can ever divide us. 

The question being the admission of a new State, I hope 
these remarks will be considered as in point, as they go to 


show the importance of the State governments, and how 
really and indeed indispensably they are the pillars of the 
federal government, and how anxious we should be to 
strengthen and not to impair them, to make them all the 
strong and equal supporters of the federal system. 

With respect to Louisiana, Congress have already, by 
their acts, solemnly ratified the treaty which extends to all 
the States, created out of that purchase, the benefits of an 
admission into the Union on equal terms with the old 
States; they gave to Louisiana first, and afterwards to 
Missouri and Arkansas, territorial governments, in all of 
which they agreed to the admission of slaves. Louisiana 
was incorporated into the Union, allowing their admission ; 
Missouri was advanced to the second grade of territorial 
government, without the prohibition of slavery : thus, for 
more than sixteen years, Missouri considered herself pre- 
cisely in the situation of her sister Louisiana, and many 
thousands of slaves have been carried by settlers there. 
To deny it then, now, will operate as a snare, unworthy the 
faith of this government. What is to be done ? Are the 
slaves now there to be manumitted, or their masters obliged 
to carry them away, break up all their settlements, and, in 
this unjust and unexpected manner, to be hurled into ruin ? 
If we are to pay no respect to the Constitution, or to 
treaties, are we to pay no respect to our own laws, by which 
the faith of the natiou has, for sixteen years, been solemnly 
pledged, that no prohibition would take place, as to slavery, 
in those States ? I have said so much, to show how im- 
portant it is to the firmness and duration of the American 
Union, to preserve the States and their government in the 
full possession of all the rights secured by the Constitution. 

3|C *f* *i* 3f* 1* ^^ 

Having thus, I trust, proved clearly that you have no 
right to adopt this inhibition of slavery, but are forbid to 
do so by the Constitution, as well as by the treaty, I ought 
perhaps to stop here j but there are some other points 


which I ought not to pass unnoticed. One of these is the 
ordinance of July, 1T8T, passed by the old Congress, at the 
period of the sitting of the Convention in Philadelphia, 
for forming the Constitution, by^hich that body (the old 
Congress) undertook to form a code for the future settle- 
ment, government, and admission into the Union, of all the 
Territory northwest of the river Ohio, ceded by Virginia 
to the United States in 1185 ; which cession has so often 
been read to the House in this discussion. On this subject, 
I beg leave to remark that, by the confederation of the 
United States, the old Congress had no power whatever 
but that of admitting new States, provided nine States 
assented. By this, it is most unquestionable, that no num- 
ber of States under nine had any right to admit new 
States. Of course, it was the intention of the confedera- 
tion that, on so important a measure as the establishment 
of governments for, and the admission of, new States, 
Congress should never possess the power to act, un- 
less nine States were represented in that body at the 
time of their doing so. This ordinance, therefore, in pre- 
scribing the forms of government, as they respected legisla- 
tive, executive, and judiciary powers, in establishing bills 
of rights, and times and terms of their admission into the 
Union, and inhibiting servitude therein, is chargeable with 
ingratitude and usurpation. It is chargeable with ingrati- 
tude, when we reflect that the cession of the great tract of 
country — this rising empire of freemen — was gratuitously, 
and with noble disinterestedness and patriotism, made by 
Virginia, that the passing of an ordinance which contained 
a provision which could not but go to prevent the admission 
of Virginians there, as they could not move there with 
their slaves, was a most ungracious and ungrateful return 
to that State for her liberality, and could not but meet with 
the disapprobation of this nation. 

I have already mentioned the reasons to show, that un- 


less they had nine States present, the old Congress had 
no power to admit new States, and of course no power to 
prescribe the forms of government, bills of rights, or 
terms or times of admissions, benefits, or exclusions, with a 
less number than nine. 

If there were not other strong reasons attending the 
passing this ordinance, those already mentioned are suffi- 
cient to show that it is a nullity ; that it never had or could 
have had a binding force ; that the present Congress has 
not any constitutional right to confirm that part of it 
which respects the exclusion of involuntary servitude from 
that Territory; and that the States of Ohio and Indiana, 
add Illinois, having by their constitutions voluntarily ex- 
cluded it, possess the power whenever they please to alter 
their constitutions, and admit servitude in any way they 
think proper. 

Let us, sir, recollect the circumstances the old Congress 
were in at the time they passed this ordinance : they had 
dwindled almost to nothing; the Convention had then been 
three months in session ; it was universally known a Con- 
stitution was in its essentials agreed to : aud the public 
were daily expecting (what soon happened) the promulga- 
tion of a new form of government for the Union. I ask, 
sir, was it, under these circumstance, proper for a feeble, 
dwindled body, that had wholly lost the confidence of the 
nation, and which was then waiting its suppression by the 
people — a feeble, inefficient body, in which only seven or 
eight States were represented, the whole of which consisted 
of but seventeen or eighteen men — a number smaller than 
your large committees ; a body literally in the very agonies of 
political death ; — was it, sir, even decent in them (not to say 
lawful or constitutional) to have passed an ordinance of such 
importance ? I do not know or recollect the names of the 
members who voted for it, but it is to be fairly presumed 
they could not have been among the men who possessed the 


greatest confidence of the Union, or at that very time 
they would have been members of the Convention sitting at 
Philadelphia. But I am perhaps taking up your time 
unnecessarily on this subject, and I shall proceed to others. 

A great deal has been said on the subject of slavery — 
that it is an infamous stain and blot on the States that 
hold them ; not only degrading the slave, but the master, 
and making him unfit for republican government ; that it 
is contrary to religion and the law of God ; and that Con- 
gress ought to do every thing in their power to prevent its 
extension among the new States. 

Now, sir, I should be glad to know how any man is ac- 
quainted with what is the will or the law of God on this 
subject. Has it ever been imparted either to the old or 
new world? Is there a single line in the Old or New Tes- 
tament, either censuring or forbidding it ? I answer with- 
out hesitation, no. But there are hundreds speaking of and 
recognizing it. Hagar, from whom millions sprang, was an 
African slave, bought out of Egypt by Abraham, the father 
of the faithful and the beloved servant of the Most High ; 
and he had, besides, three hundred and eighteen male 
slaves. The Jews in the time of the theocracy, and the 
Greeks and Romans, had all slaves ; at that time there was 
no nation without them. If we are to believe that this 
world was formed by a great and omnipotent Being ; that 
nothing is permitted to exist here but by his will, and then 
throw our eyes throughout the whole of it, we should form 
an opinion very different indeed from that asserted, that 
slavery was against the law of God. 

Let those acquainted with the situation of the people of 
Asia and Africa, where not one man in ten can be called a 
freeman, or whose situation can be compared with the com- 
forts of our slaves, throw their eyes over them, and carry 
them to Russia, and from the north to the south of Europe, 
where, except Great Britain, nothing like liberty exists. 


Let them view the lower classes of their inhabitants, by far 
the most numerous of thu whole ; the thousands of beggars 
that infest their streets, more than half starved, half naked, 
and in the most wretched state of human degradation. Let 
him then go to England; the comforts, if they have any, of 
the lower classes of whose inhabitants are far inferior to 
those of our slaves. Let him, when there, ask of their 
economists, what are the numbers of millions daily fed by 
the hand of charity; and, when sati>(ied there, then let hira 
come nearer home, and examine into the situation of the 
free negroes now resident in New York and Philadelphia, 
and compare them with t lie situation of our slaves, and he 
will tell you that, perhaps, the most inferable and degraded 
state of human nature is to he found among the free negroes 
of New York and Philadelphia, most of whom are fugitives 
from the Southern States, received and sheltered in those 
States. I did not go to New York, hut I did to Philadel- 
phia, and particularly examined this subject while there. 
I saw their streets crowded with idle, drunken negroes, at 
every corner ; and, on visiting their penitentiary, found, to 
my astonishment, that, out of five hundred convicts there 
confined, more than one-half were blacks ; and, as all the 
convicts throughout that State are sent to that penitentiary, 
and, if Pennsylvania contains eight hundred thousand white 
inhabitants, and only twenty-six thousand blacks, of course 
the crimes and vices of the blacks in those States are, com- 
paratively, twenty times greater than those of the whites in 
the same States, and clearly proves that a state of freedom 
is one of the greatest curses you can inflict on them. 

From the opinions expressed respecting the Southern 
States and the slaves there, it appears to me most clear, 
that the members on the opposite side know nothing of the 
Southern States, their lands, products, or slaves. Those 
who visit us, or go to the southward, find so great a diffe- 
rence that many of them remain and settle there. I per- 


fectly recollect when, in IT 91, General Washington visited 
South Carolina, he was so surprised at the richness, order, 
and soil of our country, that he expressed his great as- 
tonishment at the state of agricultural improvement and 
excellence our tide-lands exhibited. He said, he had no 
idea the United States possessed it. Had I then seen as 
much of Europe as I have since, I would have replied to 
him, that he would not see its equal in Europe. Sir, when 
we recollect that our former parent State was the original 
cause of introducing slavery into America, and that neither 
ourselves nor ancestors are chargeable with it ; that it cannot 
be got rid of without ruining the country, certainly the pre- 
sent mild treatment of our slaves is most honorable to that 
part of the country where slavery exists. Every slave has 
a comfortable house, is well fed, clothed, and taken care 
of; he has his family about him, and in sickness has the 
same medical aid as his master, and has a sure and com- 
fortable retreat in old age, to protect him against its in- 
firmities and weakness. During the whole of his life he is 
free from care, that canker of the human heart, which 
destroys at least one-half of the thinking part of mankind, 
and from which a favored few, very few, if indeed any, can 
be said to be free. Being without education, and born to 
obey, to persons of that description moderate labor and dis- 
cipline are essential. The discipline ought to be mild, "but 
still, while slavery is to exist, there must be discipline. In 
this state they are happier than they can possibly be if free. 
A free black can only be happy where he has some share 
of education, and has been bred to a trade, or some kind 
of business. The great body of slaves are happier in their 
present situation than they could be in any other, and the 
man or men who would attempt to give them freedom 
would be their greatest enemies. 

All the writers who contend that the slaves increase 
faster than the free blacks, if they assert what is true, prove 

272 the Missouri question. 

that the black, when in the condition of a slave, is happier 
than when free, as, in proportion to the comfort and happi- 
ness of any kind of people, such will he the increase ; and 
the next census will show what has been the increase of 
both descriptions, free and slave, and will, I think, prove 
the truth of these opinions. 

In this discussion the question as to the purchase of 
Louisiana has been introduced, and gives me an opportunity 
to state ray opinion on the subject. So far as my knowledge 
of the fact*;, preceding that pnrcbaee, enable me to form an 
opinion, I pronounce that Mr. Jefferson, in planning the 
purchase, and the gentlemen who were employed in nego- 
tiating it, covered themselves with glory. The facts that 
preceded that purchase were these : In the year 178G, 
Spain despatched a Minister, ■awed Gtordoqni, to this 
country, instructed to offer to form with us a treaty of 
commerce, which she said was an advantageous one, if 
we would, in the same treaty, consent to give up the navi- 
gation of that part of the river Mississippi which ran 
through the Spanish dominions. This, sir, I asserted ou 
this floor some days ago, and now repeat, that, on this 
treaty being, according to the then routine of business, 
referred to Mr. Jay, then Secretary for Foreign Affairs, he 
did, to the best of my recollection, report that it would, in 
his opinion, be expedient to adopt it ; that seven, all of the 
Eastern and Northern States, did vote for it, but that, owing 
to the Confederation requiring that nine States should be 
necessary to form a treaty, it was at length defeated. If 
any part of the public business in this country, in which I 
have been engaged, ever gave me more pleasure than others, 
it was the agency I had, in association with an honorable 
gentleman, now high in office, and in Washington, in pre- 
venting it. I believe I may venture to say, that it was 
owing to us the whole of the Western country now belongs 
to us, and that the Mississippi now flows through American 


lands, and that the American flag now waves alone on her 
waters. I, therefore, have always felt more than a frater- 
nal — I have felt, sir, a paternal love for this country. Nor, 
sir, is this the only important agency I have had in the 
affairs of this very valuable part of our Union. It will be 
remembered that, in the year 1802, the Intendant of New 
Orleans issued a proclamation, shutting that port to the 
further reception and deposit of American produce, under 
the treaty of 1T95, and that, on his doing so, a ferment was 
excited throughout the Union, of the most alarming nature ; 
that war was called for, both in the Senate and out of doors, 
which it was difficult for all the prudence and love of peace 
of the President to repress. Being, at that time, the 
Minister of the United States in Spain, I received instruc- 
tions from our government to use every exertion in my 
power, consistent with its dignity, to get the deposit 
restored, which I fortunately did, and this affair led to the 
acquisition of both the river and whole country in the man- 
ner you know. At the time I went to Europe, I was alone 
commissioned and authorized to treat for, and purchase, all 
the part of Louisiana, including New Orleans, to the east 
of the Mississippi and the Floridas ; but, on arriving in 
Europe, I found Louisiana had been previously secretly 
sold to Bonaparte, of which I informed Mr. Jefferson, and 
he took the measures which accomplished the purpose. 

In pursuing the arguments of some gentlemen on this 
subject, I have omitted to notice one of their arguments 
springing from that part of the third section of the fourth 
article, which says, "the Congress shall have the power to 
make all needful rules and regulations respecting the ter- 
ritory, or other property belonging to the United States," 
because this article certainly refers only to the territorial 
state, to which I have already referred, and in which, I do 
not hesitate to aver, that, in making such regulations for 
the government of the territory, they are no more author- 

274 THE MISSOURI qufstton. 

ized to inhibit slavery In the territory, than thoy are in the 
State — for, if they should have the power, it would in- 
directly effect the same thing ; it not being difficult to see, 
that, when a territory has been, like Missouri, for sixteen 
years in a strict state of territorial discipline, prohibiting 
slavery, when the period arrives for her admission as a 
State, she will be peopled entirely by inhabitants not having 
slaves, and who will, of course, insert the prohibition in 
their constitution. 

It ought to be remembered, Mr. Chairman, that the great- 
est part of the debt due for Louisiana is still unpaid, and 
that, if the mode I have asserted, by which your treasury 
is now furnished, and must be in future, is true, then the 
slaveholding States will have more than half of the pur- 
chase to pay ; but, suppose we have only one-half of it to 
pay, is it not fair, is it not just, that the use of this pofoboBC 
should be as open to the inhabitants of the slaveholding, 
as to the inhabitants of the non-slaveholding States ? And 
how can this happen, if you say to the inhabitant! of the 
Northern States, you may go there with your families, and 
all your properties ; but, if you, from the Southern or 
slaveholding States, choose to go there, it must be with- 
out your slaves, these shall not go ? thus denying to these 
the instruments of their agriculture, and the means of their 
comfort, and completely preventing the possibility of their 
removing. From this, sir, will arise another evil, that of 
the fall of the value of all the lands the United States may 
have to sell in the Territories or States from which slavery 
is excluded, at least one-half, which, if the computations of 
the number of acres come any thing near the mark, must 
amount to at least six hundreds of millions of dollars to the 
common treasury. 

I have not condescended to notice the remark, that one 
of the evils of slavery is, the lessening and depreciating the 
character of the whites in the slaveholding States, and ren- 


dering it less manly and republican, and less worthy, than 
in the non-slaveholding States, because it is not less decor- 
ous than true ; it is refuted in a moment by a review of the 
revolutionary, and particularly the last war. Look into 
your histories, compare the conduct of the heroes and states- 
men of the North and South, in both those wars, in the field 
and in the Senate ; see the monuments of valor, of wisdom, 
and patriotism, they have left behind them, and then ask an 
impartial world, on which side the Delaware lies the pre- 
ponderance : they will answer in a moment, to the South. 

It will not be a matter of surprise to any one, that so much 
anxiety should be shown by the slaveholding States, when 
it is known that the alarm, given by this attempt to legis- 
late on slavery, has led to the opinion that the very founda- 
tions of that kind of property are shaken ; that the estab- 
lishment of the precedent is a measure of the most alarm- 
ing nature ; for, should succeeding Congresses continue to 
push it, there is no knowing to what length it may be 

Have the Northern States any idea of the value of our 
slaves ? At least, sir, six hundred millions of dollars. If 
we lose them, the value of the lands they cultivate will be 
diminished in all cases one-half, and, in many, they will 
become wholly useless, and an annual income of at least 
forty millions of dollars will be lost to your citizens ; the 
loss of which will not alone be felt by the non-slaveholding 
States, but by the whole Union ; for, to whom, at present, 
do the Eastern States most particularly, and the Eastern 
and Northern generally, look for the employment of their 
shipping, in transporting our bulky and valuable products, 
and bringing us the manufactures and merchandises of 
Europe ? Another thing, in case of these losses being 
brought on us, and our being forced into a division, what 
becomes of your public debt ? Who are to pay this, and 
how will it be paid ? In a pecuniary view of this subject, 


therefore, it must ever be the policy of the Eastern and 
Northern Stales to continue connected with us. But, sir, 
there is an infinitely greater call npon them, and this is the 
call of justice, of affection, and humanity. Reposing at a 
great distance, in safety, in the full enjoyment of all their 
federal and State rights, unattacked in either, or in their 
individual rights, can they, with indifference, or ought they 
to risk, in the remotest degree, the consequences which 
this measure may produce. These may be the division of 
this Union, and a civil war. Knowing that whatever is 
said here, must get into the public prints, I am unwilling, 
for obvious reasons, to go into the description of the hor- 
rors which such a war must produce, and ardently pray 
that none of us may ever live to witne>s such an event. 

If you refuse to admit Missouri without this prohibition, 
and she refuses it, and proceeds to form a constitution for 
herself, and then applies to you for admission, what will 
you do ? Will you compel them by force ? By whom, or 
by what force can this be effected ? Will the States in her 
neighborhood join in this crusade ? Will they who, to a 
man, think Missouri is right, and you are wrong, arm in 
such a cause ? Can you send a force from the eastward of 
the Delaware ? The very distance forbids it ; and distance 
is a powerful auxiliary to a country attacked. If, in the 
days of James II., English soldiers, under military dis- 
cipline, when ordered to march against their countrymen, 
contending in the cause of liberty, disobeyed the order, and 
laid down their arms, do you think our free brethren on the 
Mississippi will not do the same ? Yes, sir, they will 
refuse, and you will at last be obliged to retreat from this 
measure, and in a manner that will not add much to the 
dignity of your government. 

I cannot, on any ground, think of agreeing to a com- 
promise on this subject. However we all may wish to see 
Missouri admitted, as she ought, on equal terms with the 


other States, this is a very unimportant object to her, com- 
pared with keeping the Constitution inviolate — with keeping 
the hands of Congress from touching the question of sla- 
very. On the subject of the Constitution, no compromise 
ought ever to be made. Neither can any be made on the 
national faith, so seriously involved in the treaty which gives 
to all Louisiana, to every part of it, a right to be incorpo- 
rated into the Union on equal terms with the other States. 

Surely, sir, when we consider the public distress of this 
country, and the necessity of union and good humor to 
repair our finances, and place our commerce in that im- 
proved situation which will give us some hope of the rise of 
our products, such as may have a tendency to relieve our 
public and private embarrassments, if we had no other 
motives for it, certainly this should be sufficient. But, sir, 
there is one of infinitely higher moment. Do we recollect, 
that we are the only free republic now in existence, and 
that, probably, such existence can only depend upon our 
distance from Europe, and our union with our present 
numbers ? It may safely be calculated we have two millions 
of men, the greatest part of whom are able to bear arms. 

In case of our continuing a united people, no attack 
from Europe, a distance of four thousand miles, could ever 
be made with the least hope of success. From the distance, 
all Europe could not furnish either the men or the means suffi- 
cient to divide or destroy this Union. If we continue united, 
as we have been, in such an event, the States would so second 
the general government, and so nerve its arm, as to put all 
attack at defiance. But, if on this, or any other occasion, 
this Union should unhappily divide, and from friends be- 
come bitter and implacable enemies to each other, who shall 
say what Europe may attempt ? Mark what they have done 
among themselves, to subjugate France, and destroy, in that 
part of the world, everything that has the semblance of re- 
publicanism. Yiew the league they have formed, in which, 


for the first time, all Europe is seen united as a single gov- 
ernment, to maintain their monarchical forms. Such is, no 
doubt, their detestation of everything like republicanism, 
that, were the United States in Europe, where they could 
be reached by land, I have not the smallest doubt, they 
would long since have been attacked, and every attempt 
made to reduce tin in to a monarchy. We are considered, 
sir, as an evil example to the monarchical world. We are 
Considered as the only repository of Mioaf. principles which 
have lately appeared and flourished for a time in Europe, 
and which it has cost them so inueh blood and treasure to 
suppress ; and should our divisions, from friends to enemies, 
ever afford them an opportunity of striking at us, with the 
least probability of success, no doubt they will do so. 

I will not trespass further on your patience, but thank 
the committee for the honor they have done me by their 
attention. I hope the great importance of the subject will 
be my excuse; and that, considering the relation in which 
I have stood to the Western country and the Mississippi, 
for the salvation of which, so far as means the keeping it au- 
nexed to this Union, as I have already said, I think I may 
claim to a gentleman, now high in office, and myself, as 
much as any other two can claim, the happiness of being 
the instruments, and having thus, in the early part of my 
life, labored with success for the parent, I cannot but think 
it a little extraordinary that I should, at this distant period, 
be called upon to defend the right of her children. My 
fervent wish is, that I may be able to do it with the same 

Extract from the speech of Mr. Whitman, of Massa- 
chusetts, on the Missouri bill, which may be found in the 
sixteenth volume of Niles's Register. It was delivered 
upon the occasion of a motion to apply the slavery restric- 
tion in the Arkansas territorial bill : 


" We should consider that we have, by our common and 
joint funds, acquired a large tract of vacant territory west 
of the Mississippi : that it is valuable to our country, as 
furnishing a fertile region for the citizens of our country to 
resort to for the purpose of bettering their condition, ac- 
quiring property, and providing for their children. The 
two great sections of the Union — to wit, the slaveholding 
and non-slaveholding sections — have an equal right to its 
enjoyment. By permitting slavery in every part of it, the 
non-slaveholding portion will be deprived of it ; if not en- 
tirely, certainly in a very great degree. On the other 
hand, if the people of the South cannot carry their slaves 
with them when they emigrate, the benefit will be equally 
lost to them." 

Extract from the speech of Mr. Shaw, of Massachusetts, 
on the Missouri bill, in 1820. 

"The opinion of mutual interest, is the chain which 
binds these States together. Change this opinion, for one, 
that a section of this country is hostile to the interest of 
another, and distrust and jealousy ensue : make that hos- 
tility palpable, and the Union would not last a day. The 
slaveholding States, like the non-slaveholding States, are 
alive to all questions that touch their property : and, how- 
ever humiliating it may be to speak of human beings as 
property, the Constitution and laws of our country con- 
sider the slaves of the South as such. Any question cal- 
culated to affect the value, or the right to this species of 
population, could not but be regarded by our countrymen 
of the south with the utmost jealousy. The country w r est 
of the Mississippi was purchased with the joint funds of 
the nation ; all, therefore, had a joint interest in it. But 
the amendment proposed, by excluding slaves, absolutely 
excluded the population of all the southern and a part of 
the western States from that fertile domain. This fur- 


nished another ground of distrust : besides, it exhibited a 
spirit of monopoly altogether incompatible with that har- 
mony and good will so essential in preserving the Union of 
the States ; it created a distinction between slaveholding 
and non-slaveholding States — a distinction that loses none 
of its mischievous quality from the ability to trace it on the 
map of our country. Who that regards the union of the 
States, can contemplate the feelings which the agitation of 
this question excited, without emotion ? And who, in re- 
flecting upon it, is not strongly reminded of the admonition 
of the Father of his Country, to 'frown with indignation 
upon the first dawnings of an attempt to array one portion 
of the inhabitants of this country against another'? 

"And, after all, what has this question to do with the 
principle of slavery ? Our ancestors brought this unfortu- 
nate race of beings into our country ; they have multiplied 
to an alarming extent ; they are the property of our fellow 
citizens, secured to them by the Constitution and laws of 
the United States. Their number forbids the idea of gen- 
eral emancipation. What, then, does policy require in re- 
lation to them ? That we should prevent the increase by 
importation, by the most rigid execution of the severest 
penalties. This we are attempting ; and I had the pleasure 
of voting for a law at the late session, inflicting the penalty 
of death on any one convicted of importing a slave into the 
United States. What does humanity demand ? That we 
should confine them forever within the present limits of the 
slaveholding States, or suffer the master to emigrate with 
his slaves into western America, where, from the extent, 
the fertility and productions of the country, they must be 
more tenderly treated, better fed, and in all respects their 
condition ameliorated." 

Extract from the speech of Mr. Holmes, of Massachu- 
setts, on the Missouri bill — the same gentleman to whom 


Jefferson addressed his celebrated letter on the Missouri 
question : 

" But this division, (upon the question of slave terri- 
tory,) he says, is singularly unfortunate. It is the only 
subject in which the slaveholding States could be made to 
unite against the rest. Are the general interests of Dela- 
ware more united with those of Georgia than Pennsylvania ? 
Are the interests of Ohio more coincident with Massachu- 
setts than Kentucky ? Sir, the hopes and prospects of the 
north and east are interwoven with the prosperity of the 
south and west ; and yet we have armed ourselves against 
them all. It is not with them a question of policy, of 
political power, but of safety, peace, existence. They 
consider it is hastening and provoking scenes of insurrec- 
tion and massacre. Their jealousy and their sensibility are 
roused ; and they demand what motive, what inducement, 
you have to this ? They are answered, ' Humanity !' In 
the name of humanity, desist. She asks no such sacrifices 
at her altar. Create jealousies, heartburnings, and hatred 
— set brother against brother — kindle the flames of civil 
discord — destroy the Union — and your liberties are gone. 
And then where will your slaves find the freedom which you 
have proffered them at the expense of your own ?" 

" New States may be admitted, and no difference is 
authorized. The authority is to admit or not, but not to 
prescribe conditions. What would be a fair construction 
of this ? Surely not that Congress might hold a territory 
in a colonial condition as long as they choose, nor that they 
might admit a new State with less political rights than 
another, but that the admission should be as soon as the 
people needed, and were capable of supporting a State 
government." — National Intelligencer, Feb. 19, 1820. 

Mr. J. Barbour, at that time a Senator in Congress 
from the State of Virginia, said : 


" What, then, is your power? Simply whether you will 
admit or refuse. This is the limit of your power. And 
even this power is subject to control, whenewr a Terri- 
tory is sufficiently large, and >'/■< population sufficiently 
numerous, your discretion ceases, and the obligation In- 
comes imperious that you forthwith admit ; far / haid 
that, according to the spirit of the (Jnnsti/u/ion, the people 
thus circumsfanecd arc entitled t<> ike privilege of self- 
yovernment." — National Intelligencer, March 18, 1820. 



Mr. Madison to President Monroe. — Extracts' from a let- 
ter dated Montpelier, Feb. 23d, 1820. 

"I received yours of the 19th, on Monday. * * * * 
The pinch of the difficulty in the case stated, seems to be in 
words " forever," coupled with the interdict relating to the 
territory north of latitude 36° 30'. If the necessary import 
of these words be, that they are to operate as a condition 
on future States admitted into the Union, and as a restric- 
tion on them after admission, they seem to encounter, in- 
directly, the arguments which prevailed in the Senate for 
an unconditional admission of Missouri. I must conclude, 
therefore, from the assent of the Senate to the words, after 
the strong vote, on constitutional grounds, against the re- 
striction on Missouri, that there is some other mode of 
explaining them in their actual application. 

As to the right of Congress, to apply such a restriction 
during the territorial period, it depends on the clause es- 
pecially providing for the management of those subordinate 

On one side it naturally occurs, that the right being given 
from the necessity of the case, and in suspension of the 
great principle* of self-government, ought not to be ex- 
tended further, nor continued longer, than the occasion 
might fairly require. 

On the other side, it cannot be denied that the constitu- 
tional phrase "to all rules," &c, as expounded by uniform 



practice, is somewhat of a ductile nature, and leaves much 
to legislative discretion. The question to be decided seems 
to be — 

" 1. Whether a territorial restriction be an assumption 
of illegitimate power ; or, 

" 2. A misuse of legitimate power ; and if the latter only, 
whether the injury threatened to the nation from an acqui- 
escence in the misuse, or from a frustration of it, be the 

" On the first point, there is certainly room for difference 
of opinion ; though for myself, I must own that I have always 
leaned to the belief that the restriction was not within tfte 
true scope of the Constitution, 

In reply to a letter from Mr. Monroe, on the Missouri 
question he said : " The question to be decided seem to 

" 1. Whether a tcrritoral restriction be an assumption 

of illegitimate power ; or, 

"2 A misuse of legitimate power ; and if the latter only, 
w r hether the injury threatened to the nation from an acqui- 
escence in the misuse, or from a frustration of it, be the 

11 On the first point, there is certainly room for difference 
of opinion ; though, for myself, I must own that I have al- 
ways leaned in the belief that the restriction was not within 
the true scope of the Constitution. 

" On the alternative presented by the second point, there 
can be no room, with the cool and candid, for blame in 
those acquiescing in a conciliatory course, the demand for 
which was deemed urgent, and the course itself deemed not 
irreconcilable with the Constitution. 

" This is the hasty view I have taken of the subject. I 
am aware that I may be suspected of being influenced by 
the habit of a guarded construction of constitutional powers ; 
and I have certainly felt all the influence that could justly 


flow from a conviction, that an uncontrolled dispersion of 
the slaves now within the United States, was not only best 
for the nation, bnt most favorable for the slaves also, both 
as to their prospects of emancipation, and as to their con- 
dition in the mean time." 

As to the reason of the passage of the Ordinance of IT 81, 
under the old Confederation, Mr. Madison says : — 

" I have observed, as yet, in none of the views taken of 
the Ordinance of 1781, interdicting slavery northwest of 
the river Ohio, an allusion to the circumstance that when it 
passed, Congress had no authority to prohibit the importa- 
tion of slaves from abroad ; that all the States had, and 
some were in the full exercise of, the right to import them ; 
and, consequently, that there was no mode in which Con- 
gress could check the evil, but the indirect one of narrow- 
ing the space open for the reception of slaves. 

" Had a federal authority then existed to prohibit, 
directly and totally, the importation from abroad, can it be 
doubted that it would have been exerted, and that a regu- 
lation having merely the effect of preventing the interior 
disposition of slaves actually in the United States, and crea- 
ting a distinction among the States in the degree of their 
sovereignty, would not have been adopted, or perhaps 
thought of?" — Mr. Madison to Mr. Monroe, February 
10th, 1820. 

Rough draught, or notes, of President Monroe's intended 
Veto Message, rejecting the Missouri Bill, if it had passed 
Congress with certain restrictions, found in his hand- 
writing, among his papers in possession of S. L. Gou- 
verneur, Esq. 

Having fully considered the bill entitled, &c, and disap- 
proved of it, I now return it to the in which it ori- 
ginated, with my objections to the same. 

That the Constitution, in providing that new States may 


be admitted into the Union, as is dono by the third section 
of the fourth article, inteuded that they should be admitted 
with all the rights and immunities of the original States, 
retaining, like them, all the powers as to their local govern- 
ments, all the powers ceded to it by the Constitution. 

That if conditions of a character not applicable to the 
original States should be imposed on a new State, an ine- 
quality would be imposed or created, lessening in degree 
the right of State sovereignty, which would always be de- 
grading to such new State, and which, •pirating as a con- 
dition of its admission, its incorporation would be incom- 
plete, and would also be annulled, and such new State be 
severed from the Union, should afterwards assume equality, 
and exercise a power acknowledged to belong to all the ori- 
ginal States. 

That the proposed restriction to territories which are to 
be admitted into the Union, if not in direct violation of (lie 
Constitution, is repugnant to its principles, since it is 
intended to produce an effect on the future policy of the new 
States, operating unequally in regard to the original States, 
injuring those affected by it, in an interest protected from 
such injury by the Constitution, without benefiting any 
State in the Union ; and that, in this sense, it is repugnant 
to the generous spirit which has ["so long" erased] always 
existed and been cherished by the several States toward 
each other. 

That the first clause of the ninth section of the first arti- 
cle, whieh provides that " the migration or importation of 
such persons as any of the States now existing shall think 
proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress 
prior," &c, in whatever sense the term migration or impor- 
tation may be understood, whether as applicable to the same 
description of persons or otherwise, confines the power of 
Congress exclusively to persons entering the United States, 
or who might be disposed to enter, from abroad, and pre- 


eludes all interference with such persons, or any other 
persons, who had previously entered according to the laws 
of any of the States. 

That by the third section of the first article, whereby it 
is provided that representation and direct taxes shall be ap- 
portioned among the several States which may be included 
within this Union, according to the whole number of free 
persons, including those bound to service for a number of 
years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all 
other persons — [the words "the persons held in bondage n 
erased,] slavery, as existing under the laws of the several 
States, [the word " were " erased] was not only recognized, 
but [the word " secured " erased] its political existence was 
secured to the States, which it would be unjust to the States 
within which such persons are to deprive them of, as it would 
be inhuman to the persons themselves. 

That should the slaves be confined to the States in which 
slavery exists, as the free people will continue to emigrate, 
the disproportion between them will in a few years be very 
great, and at no distant period the whole country will fall 
into the hands of the blacks. As soon as this disproportion 
reaches a certain State, the white population would probably 
abandon those States to avoid insurrection and massacre. 
What would become of the country without States ? Would 
the general government ["protect" erased] support the 
owners of slaves in their authority over them, after the 
States individually had lost the power ? — or the slaves be- 
ing in possession of those States, and independent of their 
owners, would the States be recognized as belonging to them, 
and their representatives be received in Congress. 

That it would be better to compel the whites to remain, 
and the blacks to move, &c. 

That slavery is not the offspring of this Revolution ; that 
it took place in our colonial state ; that all further impor- 
tations have been prohibited since the Revolution, under 


laws which are vigorously enforced ; that in our revolution- 
ary struggle, the States in which shivery existed sustained 
their share io the common burdens, furnished their equal 
quotas of troops, and paid their equal share of taxes; that 
slavery, though a national 6vil, is felt most sensibly by the 
States in which it exists ; that it would be destructive to the 
whites to confine it there, and to the ttocAt, as the distri- 
bution of them over an extensive territory, and among many 
owners, will secure them a better treatment ; that the ex- 
tension of it to new States cannot possibly injure the old, 
as they will claim all their rights, since no attempt can ever be 
made, or idea entertained, of requiring them to admit slavery ; 
that an attempt to lix on the States having slavery any 
odium is unmerited, and would be ungenerous. 

Mr. Jefferson to President Monroe. — Extract from a 

letter dated Monticello t March Zd\ 18*20. 

"I am indebted to you for your two letters of February 
7th and 19th. This Missouri question, by a geographical 
line of division, is the most portentous one I have ever 
contemplated. * * * * is ready to risk the Union for 
any chance of restoring his party to power and wriggling 
himself to the head of it ; nor is******* with- 
out his hopes, nor scrupulous as to the means of fulfilling 
them. I hope I shall be spared the pains of witness- 
ing it, either by the good sense of the people, or by 
the more certain reliance — the hand of death. On this 
or that side of the Styx, I am ever and devotedly yours.*" 

In a letter, dated on the 13th of April, 1820, he says ; 

" The old schism of Federal and Republican threatened 
nothing, because it existed in every State, and united them 
together by the fraternism of party ; but the coincidence of 
a marked principle, moral and political, with a geographical 
line, once conceived, I feared, would never more be oblite- 
rated from the mind ; that it would be recurring on every 


occasion, and renewing irritations until it would kindle such 
mutual and mortal hatred, as to render separation prefer- 
able to eternal discord. I have been amongst the most 
sanguine in believing that our Union would be of long dura- 
tion. I now doubt it much ; and see the event at no great 
distance, and the direct consequence of this question. 
On the 20th of December, 1820, he wrote thus : 
" Nothing has ever presented so threatening an aspect as 
what is called the Missouri question. The Federalists, 
completely put down, and despairing of ever rising again 
under the old divisions of Whig and Tory, devised a new 
one, of slaveholding and non-slaveholding States, which, 
while it had a semblance of being moral, was at the same 
time geographical, and calculated to give them ascendency 
by debauching their old opponents to a coalition with 
them. Moral, the question certainly is not, because the re- 
moval of slaves from one State to another, no more than 
their removal from one country to another, would never make 
a slave of one human being who would not be so without it. 
Indeed, if there be any morality in the question, it is on the 
other side, because, by spreading them over a larger surface 
their happiness would be increased, and the burden of their 
future liberation lightened, by bringing a greater number 
of shoulders under it. However, it seemed to throw dust 
into the eyes of the people, and to fanaticize them, while to 
the knowing ones it gave a geographical and preponderating 
line of the Potomac and Ohio, throwing fourteen States to 
the North and East and ten to the South and West. With 
these, therefore, it is merely a question of power. But with 
this geographical minority it is a question of existence ; for 
if Congress once goes out of the Constitution to arrogate the 
right of regulating the condition of the inhabitants of the 
States, its majority may, and probably will declare, that the 
condition of all within the United States shall be that of 
freedom ; in which case all the whites south of the Potomac 


and the Ohio must evacuate their States, and most fortunate 
those who can do it first.'' 

And in this letter, after speculating on the probable con- 
sequence of the threatened disunion, he adds : 

11 Should the scission take place, one of its most deplor- 
able consequences would be its discouragement of the efforts 
of European nations, in the regeneration of their oppressive 
and cannibal governments." 

In a letter of the same date (20th of December) to the 
Marquis de Lafayette, he prophetically shadows forth, what 
we now see realized, with the same precision as if he were 
the historian of to-day. 

" With us things are going well. The boisterous sea of 
liberty, indeed, is never without a wave; and that from 
•Missouri is now rolling towards us. But we shall ride over 
it as we have done over all others. It is not a moral ques- 
tion, but one merely of power. Its object is to raise a geo- 
graphical principle for the choice of a President, and the 
noise will be kept up till that is effected. All know that 
permitting the slaves of the South to spread into the West, 
will not add one being to that unfortunate condition ; that 
it will increase the happiness of those existing, and by 
spreading them over a large surface will dilate the evil 
everywhere, and facilitate the means of getting finally rid 
of it." 

So thought and so wrote Jefferson, on the question which 
divided and threatened us then, as it divides and threatens 
us now. 

Mr. Jefferson was minister to France whilst the Conven- 
tion sat which formed the Constitution ; and Mr. Mason, at 
whose relation he recorded this scrap of history, was a 
member of that Convention, and it is dated at the family 
seat of the relator, (Gunston Hall,) some four years only 
after the event. 

September 30th, 1T92. " Ex relatione ft. Mason. The 


Constitution, as agreed to, till a fortnight before the Con- 
vention rose, was such an one as he would have set his hand 
and heart to. 1. The President was to be elected for seven 
years, then ineligible for seven years more. 2. Rotation in 
the Senate. 3. A vote of two-thirds in the legislature on 
particular subjects, and expressly on that of navigation. 
The three New England States were constantly with us in 
all questions— (Rhode Island not there, and New York 
seldom.) So that it was these three States, with the five 
Southern ones, against Pennsylvania, Jersey, and Delaware 
With respect to the importation of slaves, it was left to 
Congress. This disturbed the two southernmost States, 
who knew that Congress would immediately suppress the 
importation of slaves. These two States, therefore, struck 
up a bargain with the three New England States : if they 
would join to admit slaves for some years, the two southern- 
most States would join in changing the clause which required 
two-thirds of the legislature in any vote. It was done. 
These articles were changed accordingly, and from that 
moment the two Southern States and the three Northern 
ones joined Pennsylvania, Jersey, and Delaware, and made 
the majority 8 to 3 against us, instead of 8 to 3 for us, as it 
had been through the whole Convention. Under this coali- 
tion, the great principles of the Constitution were changed 
in the last days of the Convention." 

In a letter to Mr. Adams, dated January 22d, 1821, he 

says : 

" Our anxieties in this quarter are all concentrated in the 
question, What does the Holy Alliance in and out of Con- 
gress mean to do with us on the Missouri question ? And 
this, by the by, is but the name of the case, it is only the 
John Doe or Richard Roe of the ejectment. The real 
question, as seen in the States afflicted with this unfortunate 
population, is, Are our slaves to be presented with freedom 
and a dagger ? • For if Congress has the power to regulate 
the conditions of the inhabitants of the States, within the 


States, it will be bat another exercise of that power to de- 
clare that all shall be free." 

Again, in a letter to General Lafayette, dated Novem- 
ber 4th, 1823, he uses the following striking language i 

"On the eclipse of federalism with as, although not its 
extinction, its leaders got up the Missouri question, under 
the false front of lessening the men-lire of slavery, but with 
the real view of producing a geographical division of parties, 
which might insure them the next J 'resident. The people 
of the North went blindfold into the snare, followed their 
leaders for a while with a zeal truly moral and laudable, 
until they became sensible that they were injuring instead 
of aiding the real interests of the slaves ; that they had been 
used merely as tools for electioneering purposes; and that 
trick of hypocrisy then fell as quickly as it had been got 

General (afterward* President) Harrison to President 
Monroe. — Extract of a Letter dated North Bend, June 
16, 1823. 

" In relation to the Missouri question, I am, and have 
been for many years, so much opposed to slavery, that I 
will nefer live in a State where it exists. But I believe 
that the Constitution has given no power to the General 
Government to interfere in this matter, and that to have 
slaves or no slaves, depends upon the will of the people in 
each State alone. . 

" Besides the constitutional objection, I am persuaded 
that the obvious tendency of such interferences on the part 
of the States which have no slaves with the property of 
their fellow citizens of the others, is to produce a state of 
discord and jealousy that will, in the end, prove fatal to 
the Union. I believe in no other State are such wild and 
dangerous sentiments entertained on this subject as in Ohio, 
and I claim the merit of being the only person of any 
political standing in the State who publicly oppose them." 


TION — ACT OF 1793. 

(From Benton's Thirty Years.) 

It is of record proof that the anti-slavery clause in the 
Ordinance of 1787, could not be passed until the fugitive 
slave recovery clause was added to it. That anti-slavery 
clause, first prepared in the Congress of the Confederation 
by Mr. Jefferson, in 1784, was rejected, and remained re- 
jected for three years, until 1787 ; when, receiving the 
additional clause for the recovery of fugitives, it was 
unanimously passed. This is clear proof that the first 
clause, that prohibiting slavery in the Northwest Territory, 
could not be obtained without the second, authorizing the 
recovery of slaves who should take refuge in that territory. 
It was a compromise between the slave States and the free 
States, unanimously agreed upon by both parties, and 
founded on a valuable consideration, one preventing the 
spread of slavery over a vast extent of country, the other 
retaining the right of property in the slaves which might 
flee to it. Simultaneously with the adoption of this article 
in the Ordinances, in 1787, was the formation of the Con- 
stitution of the United States, both formed at the same 
time in neighboring cities, and (it maybe said) by the same 
men. The Congress sat in New York, the Federal Con- 
vention in Philadelphia ; and while the most active mem- 
bers of both were members of each, as Madison and 
Hamilton, yet, by constant interchange of opinion, the 
members of both bodies may be assumed to have worked 



together for a common object. The right to recover fugi- 
tive slaves went into the Constitution as it went into the 
Ordinance, simultaneously and unanimously ; and it may be 
assumed upon the facts of the case, and aK the evidence of 
the day, that the Constitution, no more than the Ordinance, 
could have been formed without the fugitive slave recovery 
clause contained in it. A right to recover slaves is not 
only authorized in the Constitution, but it is a right without 
which there would have been no Constitution, and also no 
anti-slavery Ordinance. 

One of the early acts of Congress, as early as February, 
It 93, was a statute to carry into effect the clause in the 
Constitution for the reclamation of fugitives from justice 
and fugitives from labor ; and that statute made by the 
men who made the Constitution, as interpreted by men 
who had a right to know its meaning. That act consisted 
of four sections, all brief and clear, and the first two applied 
exclusively to fugitives from justice. The third and fourth 
applied to fugitives from labor, embracing apprentices as 
well as slaves, and applying the same rights and remedies 
in each case : and of these two, the third alone contains 
the whole provisions for reclaiming the fugitive — the fourth 
merely containing penalties for the obstruction of that right. 
The third section, then, is the only one essential to the 
object of this chapter, and is in these words : 

" That when a person held to labor in any of the United 
States, or in either of the territories on the northwest or 
south of Ohio, under the laws thereof, shall escape into any 
other of said States or territories, the person to whom such 
labor is due, his agent or attorney, is hereby empowered to 
seize or arrest such fugitive from labor, and to take him or 
her before any judge of the circuit or district courts of the 
United States, residing or being within the State, or before 
any magistrate of a county, city, or town corporate, wherein 
such seizure or arrest shall be made, and upon proof to the 


satisfaction of such judge or magistrate, either by oral tes- 
timony, or by affidavit taken before and certified by a 
magistrate, of any such State or territory, that the person 
so seized and arrested, doth, under the laws of the State or 
territory from which he or she fled, owe service to the persons 
claiming him or her, it shall be the duty of such judge or 
magistrate to give a certificate thereof to such claimant, his 
agent or attorney, which shall be sufficient warrant for 
removing the said fugitive from labor to the State or terri- 
tory from which he or she fled." 

This act was passed on the recommendation of President 
Washington in consequence of a case having arisen between 
Pennylvania and Virginia, which showed the want of an 
act of Congress to carry the clause in the Constitution into 
effect. It may be held to be a fair interpretation of the 
Constitution, and by it the party claiming the service of the 
fugitive in any State or territory had the right to seize his 
slave whenever he saw him, and to carry him before a judicial 
authority in the State ; and upon affidavit or oral testimony, 
showing his right, he was to receive a certificate to that 
effect, by virtue of which he might carry him back to the 
State from which he had fled. This act, fully recognizing 
the right of the claimant to seize his slave by mere virtue 
of ownership, and then to carry him out of the State upon 
a certificate and without a trial, was passed as good as 
unanimously by the second Congress which sat under the 
Constitution — the proceedings of the Senate showing no 
division, and in the House only seven voting against the 
bill, there being no separate votes on the two parts of it, 
and two of these seven from the slave States (Virginia, 
and Maryland). It does not appear to what these seven 
objected — whether to the fugitive slave sections, or those 
which applied to fugitives from justice. Such unanimity 
in its passage by those who helped to make the Constitu- 
tion was high evidence in its favor ; the conduct of the 


States, and both judiciaries, State and federal, were to the 
same effect. The act was continually enforced, and the 
courts decided that this right of the owner to seize his 
slave was just as large in the free State to which he had 
fled as in the slave State from which he had run away — 
that he might seize, by night as well as by day, on Sunday 
as well as other days, and also in a house, provided no 
breach of the peace was committed. The penal section in 
the bill was clear and heavy, and went upon the ground of 
the absolute right of the master to seize his slave by his own 
authority wherever he saw him, and the criminality of any 
obstruction or resistance in the exercise of that right. It 
was in these words : 

" That any person who shall knowingly and wilfully 
obstruct or hinder such claimant, his agent or attorney, in 
so seizing or arresting such fugitive from labor, or shall 
rescue such fugitive from such claimant, his agent or 
attorney, when so arrested pursuant to the authority here- 
in given or declared ; or shall harbor, or conceal such 
persons after notice that he or she was a fugitive from 
labor as aforesaid, shall, for either of the said offenses, 
forfeit and pay the sum of five hundred dollars, which pen- 
alty may be recovered by and for the benefit of such claim- 
ant, by action of debt in any court proper to try the same, 
saving, moreover, to the person claiming such labor or ser- 
vice his right of action for or on account of the said injuries, 
01 either of them." 

State officers, the magistrates and judges, though not 
bound to act under the law of Congress, yet did so ; and 
State jails, though not obligatory under a federal law, were 
freely used for the recaptured fugitives. This continued 
till a late day in most of the free States — in all of them 
until after the Congress of the United States engaged in 
the slavery agitation — and in the great State of Pennsyl- 
vania until the 20th March, 1841 ; this is to say, until a 
month after Mr. Calhoun brought into the Senate the 


slavery resolutions, stigmatized by Mr. Benton as " fire- 
brand" at the moment of their introduction, and which are 
since involving the Union in conflagration. Then Pennsyl- 
vania passed the law forbidding her judicial authorities to 
take cognizance of any fugitive slave case — granted a habeas 
corpus remedy to any fugitives arrested — denying the use 
of her jails to confine any one, and repealing the six months' 
slave sojourning law of 1780. 

Some years before the passage of this harsh act, and 
before the slavery agitation had commenced in Congress, to 
wit, 1826 (which was nine years before the commencement 
of the agitation) Pennsylvania had passed a most liberal 
law of her own, done upon the request of Maryland, to aid 
the recovery of fugitive slaves. It was entitled "An Act to 
give effect to the Constitution of the United States in re- 
claiming fugitives from justice.' 11 Such has been the just 
and generous conduct of Pennsylvania toward the slave 
States until up to the passing the harsh act of 1847. Her 
legal right to pass that act is admitted ; her magistrates 
were not bound to act under the federal law — her jails were 
not liable to be used for federal purposes. The sojourning 
law of 1180 was her own, aud she had a right to repeal it. 
But the whole act of 1847 was the exercise of a mere right, 
against the comity which is due to states united under a 
common head, against moral and social duty, against high 
national policy, against the spirit in which the Constitution 
was made, against her own previous conduct for sixty years, 
and injurious and irritating to the people of the slave States, 
and part of it unconstitutional. The denial of the interven- 
tion of her judicial officers, and the use of her prisons, 
though an inconvenience, was not insurmountable, and might 
be remedied by Congress ; the repeal of the act of 1780 
was the radical injury, and for which there was no remedy 
in federal legislation. 

That act was passed before the adoption of the Constitu- 


tion, and while the feelings of cordiality, good-will, and en- 
tire justice prevailed among the States, it was allowed to 
continue in force nearly sixty yean after the Constitution 
was made, and was a proof of good feeling toward all during 
that time. By the terms of this act, a discrimination was 
established between sojourners and permanent residents, 
and the elements of time — the most obvious and easy of all 
arbiters — was taken for the rule of discrimination. Six 
months was the time allowed to discriminate a sojourn from 
a residence ; and during that time the rigbtfl of the owner 
remained complete in his slave ; after the lapse of that time, 
his ownership ceased. This six months was equally in favor 
of all persons. But there was further and indefinite provi- 
sions in favor of members of Congress, and of the federal 
government, all of whom coming from slave States, were 
allowed to retain their ownership as long as their federal 
duties required them to remain the States. Such an act 
was just and wise, and in accordance with the spirit of comity 
which should prevail among States formed into a Union, 
having a common general government, and reciprocating the 
rights of citizenship. It is to be deplored that any event 
ever arose to occasion a repeal of that act. It is to be 
wished a spirit would arise to re-enact it, and that other of 
the free States should follow the example. For there were 
others, and several which had similar acts, and which re- 
pealed them in like manner as Pennsylvania, uuder the same 
unhappy influences, and with the same baleful consequences. 
New York for example — her law of discrimination between 
the sojourner and resident being the same in principle, and 
still more liberal in detail than that of Pennsylvania — allow- 
ing nine months instead of six to determine that character. 
This act of New York, like that of Pennsylvania, con- 
tinued undisturbed in the State until the slavery agitation 
took root in Congress, and was even so well established in 
the good opinion of the people of that State, as late as thir- 


teen years after the commencement of that agitation, as to 
be boldly sustained by the candidates for the highest office. 
On this an eminent instance will be given in the canvass for 
the governorship of the State in the year 1838. In that 
year Mr. Marcy and Mr. Seward were the opposing candi- 
dates, and an anti-slavery meeting, held at Utica, passed a 
resolve to have them interrogated (among other things) on 
the point of repealing the slave sojournment act. Messrs. 
Gerrit Smith and William Jay were nominated a committee 
for that purpose, and fulfilled their mission so zealously as 
to rather overstate the terms of the act, using the word 
u importation " as applied to the coming of these slaves with 
their owners, thus : "Are you in favor of the repeal of the 
law which now authorizes the importation of slaves into thi3 
State, and their detention as such for the time of nine 
months ?" Objecting to the substitution of the term im- 
portation, and stating the act correctly, both the candidates 
answered fully in the negative, and with reasons for their 
opinion. The act was first in its own term, as follows : 

"Any person not being an inhabitant of this State, who 
shall be traveling to or from, or passing through this State, 
may bring with him any person lawfully held by him in 
slavery, and may take such person with him from this State ; 
but the person so held in slavery shall not reside or continue 
in the State longer than nine months, and if such residence be 
continued beyond that time, such person shall be free." Re- 
plying to the interrogatory, Mr. Marcy then proceeds to 
give his opinion and reasons in favor of sustaining the act, 
which he does unreservedly : 

By comparing this law with your interrogatory, you will 
perceive at once that the latter implies much more than the 
former expresses. The discrepancy between them is so 
great, that I suspected, at first, that you had reference to 
some other enactment which had escaped general notice. 
As none, however, can be found but the foregoing, to 


which the questioo is in any respect applicable, there will 
be no mistake, I presume, in assuming it to be the one you 
had in view. The deviation, in patting the qne8tion, from 

what would seem to be the plain and obvious course of 
directing the attention to the particular law under con- 
sideration, by referring to it in the very terms in which it is 
expressed or at least in language showing its objects and 

limitations, I do not impute to an intention to create an 
erroneous impression as to the law, or to ascribe to it a 
character of odiousness which it does not deserve ; yet I 
think that it must be conceded that your question will in- 
duce those who are uot particularly acquainted with the 
section of the statute to which it refers, to believe that 
there is a law of this State which allows a free importation 
of slaves into it, without restriction as to object, and with- 
out limitation as to the persons who may do so, yet this 
is very far from being true. This law does not permit any 
inhabitant of this State to bring into it any person held in 
slavery, under any pretense, or for any object whatsoever; 
nor does it allow any persou of any other State or country 
to do so, except such person is actually passing to or from, 
or passing through this State. This law, in its operation 
and effect, only allows persons belonging to States or na- 
tions where domestic slavery exists, who happen to be 
traveling in this State, to be attended by their servants, 
whom they lawfully hold in slavery when at home, provided 
they do not remain within our territories longer than nine 
months. The difference between it and the one implied by 
your interrogatory is so manifest, that it is perhaps fair to 
presume, that if those by whose appointment you act in this 
matter had not misapprehended its character, they would 
not have instructed you to make it the subject of one of 
your questions. It is so restricted in its object, and that 
is so unexceptionable that it can scarcely be regarded as 
obnoxious to well-founded objections when viewed in its 


true light. Its repeal would, I apprehend, have an injurious 
effect upon our intercourse with some of the other States, 
and particularly upon their business connection with our 
commercial emporium. In addition to this, the repeal 
would have a tendency to disturb the political harmony 
among the members of the confederacy, without producing 
any beneficial result to compensate for these evils. I am 
not therefore in favor of it." 

This is an explicit answer, meeting the interrogatory 
with a full negative, and implicitly rebuking the phrase, 
"importation," by supposing it would not have been used 
if the Utica convention had understood the act. Mr. 
Seward answered in the same spirit, and to the same effect, 
only giving a little more amplitude to his excellent reason. 
He says : 

" Does not your inquiry give too broad a meaning to the 
section ? It certainly does not confer upon any citizen of 
a State, or of any other country, or any citizen from any 
other State, except the owner of slaves in another State by 
virtue of the laws thereof, the right to bring slaves into 
this State or detain them here under any circumstances 
as such. I understand your inquiry, therefore, to mean, 
whether I am in favor of a repeal of the law which declares, 
in substance, that any person from the Southern or south- 
western States, who may be traveling to or from or passing 
through the State, may bring with him and take with him 
any person lawfully held by him in slavery in the State 
from whence he came, provided such slaves do not remain 
here more than nine months. The article of the Consti- 
tution of the United States which bears upon the present 
question, declares that no person held to service or labor in 
one State under the laws thereof, escaping to another State, 
shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be 
discharged from such service or labor, but such person shall 
be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service 


or labor may be due. I understand that, in the State of 
Massachusetts, this provision of the Constitution has been 
decided by the courts not to include the case of a slave 
brought by his master into the State and escaping thence. 
But the courts of law in this State have uniformly given a 
different construction to the same article of the Constitution, 
and have always decided that it does embrace the case of a 
slave brought by his master into this State, and escaping 
from him here. Consequently, under this judicial construc- 
tion of the Constitution, and without, and in defiance of 
any law or regulation of this State, if the slave escape from 
his master in this State, he must be restored to him, when 
claimed at any time during his master's temporary so- 
journment, within the State, whether that sojournment 
be six months, nine months, or longer. It is not for 
me to say that this decision is erroneous, nor is it for our 
legislature. Acting under its authority, they passed the 
law to which you object, for the purpose not of conferring 
new powers or privileges on the slave-owner, but to prevent 
iiis abuse of that which the Constitution of the United 
States, thus expounded, secures to him. The law, as I 
understood it, was intended to fix a period of time as a test 
of transient passage through, or temporary residence in the 
State, within the provisions of the Constitution. The 
duration of nine months is not material in the question, and 
if it be unnecessarily long, may and ought to be abridged. 
But, if no such law existed, the right of the master (under 
the construction of the Constitution before mentioned) 
would be indefinite, and the slave must be surrendered to 
him in all cases of traveling through or passage to or from 
the State. If I have correctly apprehended the subject, 
this law is one not conferring a right upon any person to 
import slaves into the State, and hold them here as such, 
but is an attempt at restriction upon the constitutional 
right of the master : a qualification, or at least a definition 


of it, and is in favor of the slave. Its repeal, therefore, 
would have the effect to put in greater jeopardy the class 
of persons you propose to benefit by it. 

" While the construction of the Constitution adopted here 
is maintained, the law it would seem ought to remain upon 
our statute book, not as an encroachment upon the rights 
of man but a protection for them. 

"But, gentlemen, being desirous to be entirely candid in 
this communication, it is proper I should add, that I am not 
convinced it would be either wise, expedient or humane to 
declare to our fellow citizens of the Southern and South- 
western States, that if they travel to or from or pass through 
the State of New York, they shall not bring with them the 
attendants whom custom, or education, or habit may have 
rendered necessary to them. I have not been able to dis- 
cover any good object to be attained by such an act of in- 
hospitality. It certainly can work no injury to us, nor can 
it be injurious to the unfortunate beings held In bondage 
to permit them, once perhaps in their lives, and at most on 
occasions few and far between, to visit a country where 
slavery is unknown, I can even conceive of benefits to the 
great cause of human liberty, from the cultivation of this 
intercourse with the South. I can imagine but one ground 
of objection, which is, that it may be regarded as an impli- 
cation that this State sanctioned slavery. If this objection, 
were well grounded, I should at once condemn the law. 
But, in truth the law does not imply any such sanction. 
The same statute which, in necessary obedience to the Con- 
stitution of the United States as expounded, declares 
the exception, condemns, in the most clear and definite 
terms, all human bondages. I will not press the considera- 
tion flowing from the nature of our Union, and the mutual 
concessions on which it was founded, against the propriety 
of such an exclusion as your question contemplates, ap- 
parently for the purpose only of avoiding an implication not 


founded in fact, and which the history of our State so nobly 
contradicts. It is sufficient to say that such an exclusion 
could have no good effect practically, and would accom- 
plish nothing in the great cause of human liberty." 

These answers do not seem to have affected the election 
in any way. Mr. Seward was elected, each candidate re- 
ceiving the full vote of his party. Since that time the act 
has been repealed, and no voice has been raised to restore 
it. Just and meritorious as were the answers of Messrs. 
Marcy and Seward in favor of sustaining the sojourning 
act, their voices in favor of its restoration would be still 
more so now. It was a measure in the very spirit of the 
Constitution, and in the very nature of a union, and in full 
harmony with the spirit of concession, deference, and good 
will in which the Constitution was founded. Several other 
States had acts to the same effect, and the temper of the 
people in all the free States was accordant. It was not 
until after the slavery question became a subject of political 
agitation, in the national legislature, that these acts were 
repealed, aud this spirit destroyed. Political agitation has 
done all the mischief. 

The act of Pennsylvania, of March 3d, 1847, beside 
repealing the slave sojournment act of 1780 — (an act made 
in the time of Dr. Franklin, and which had been on her 
statute book near seventy years) — beside repealing her 
recent act of 1826, and beside forbidding the use of her 
prisons and the intervention of her officers in the recovery 
of fugitive slaves — beside all this, went on to make positive 
enactment to prevent the exercise of the rights of forcible 
recaption of fugitive slaves, as regulated by the act of 
Congress, under the clause in the Constitution ; and for 
that purpose contained this section. 

" That if any person or persons, claiming any negro or 
mulatto, as fugitive from servitude or labor, shall, under any 
pretense of authority whatever, violently and tumultuously 


seize upon and carry away in a riotous, violent, and tumul- 
tuous manner, and so as to disturb and endanger the public 
peace, any negro or mulatto within this commonwealth, 
either with or without the intention of taking such negro or 
mulatto before any district or circuit judge, the person or 
persons so offending against the peace of this common- 
wealth shall- be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor ; and, on 
conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not 
less than one hundred nor more than two thousand dollars ; 
and, further, be confined in the county jail for any period 
not exceeding three months, at the discretion of the court." 

The granting of the habeas corpus writ to any fugitive 
slave, completed the enactment of this statute, which thus 
carried out, to the full, the ample intimations contained in 
its title, to-wit : "An act to prevent kidnapping, preserve 
the public peace, prohibit the exercise of certain powers 
heretofore exercised by judges, justices of the peace, alder- 
men, and jailors within this commonwealth : and to repeal 
certain slave laws." This act made a new starting-point 
in the anti-slavery movements North, as the resolutions of 
Mr. Calhoun, of the previous month, made a new starting- 
point in the pro-slavery movements in the South. The first 
led to the new fugitive slave recovery act of 1850 ; the 
other has led to the abrogation of the Missouri Compromise 
line ; and between the two, the state of things has been 
produced which now afflicts and distracts the country, and 
is working a sectional divorce of the States. 

A citizen of Maryland, acting under the federal law of 
1T93, in recapturing his slave in Pennsylvania, was prose- 
cuted under the State act of 1826, convicted, and sentenced 
to its penalties. The constitutionality of this enactment 
was in vain pleaded in the Pennsylvania court; but her 
authorities acted in the spirit of deference and respect to 
the authorities of the Union, and concurred in an "agreed 
case," to be carried before the Supreme Court of the United 


States, to test the constitutionality of the Pennsylvania 
law. That court decided, fully and promptly, all the points 
in the case, and to the full vindication of all the rights of a 
slaveholder, under the recaption clause in the Constitution. 
The points decided cover all the ground, and, besides, show 
precisely in what particular the act of 1793 required to be 
amended, to make it work out its complete effect under the 
Constitution, independent of all extrinsic aid. The points 
were these : 

"The provisions of the act of February 12th, 1793, re- 
lative to fugitive slaves, is clearly constitutional in all 
its leading provisions, and, indeed, with the exception of 
that part which confers authority on State magistrates, is 
free from reasonable doubt or difficulty. As to the autho- 
rity so conferred on State magistrates, while a difference 
of opinion exists, and may exist on this point, in different 
States, whether State magistrates are bound to act under 
it, none is entertained by the Court that State magistrates 
may, if they choose, exercise that authority, unless forbid 
by State legislation." M The power of legislation in rela- 
tion to fugitives from labor is exclusively in the national 

" The right to seize and retake fugitive slaves, and the 
duty to deliver them up, in whatever State of the Union 
they may be found is, under the Constitution, recognized as 
an absolute positive right and duty, pervading the whole 
Union with an equal and supreme force, uncontrolled and 
uncontrollable by State sovereignty or State legislation. 
The right and duty are co-extensive and uniform in remedy 
and operation throughout the whole Union. The owner 
has the same exemptions from State regulations and con- 
trol, through however many States he may pass with the 
fugitive slaves in his possession in transitu to his domicile. 
11 The act of the legislature of Pennsylvania, on which the in- 
dictment against Edward Prigg was founded, for carrying away 


a fugitive slave, is unconstitutional and void. It purports to 
punish, as a public offense against the State, the very act 
of seizing and removing a slave by his master, which the 
Constitution of the United States was designed to justify 
and uphold." "The constitutionality of the act of Con- 
gress (1793) relating to fugitives from labor has been 
affirmed by the adjudications of the State tribunal, and by 
those of the courts of the United States." 



December 12, 1831. This being the first day of the 
session for presenting petitions, a great number were pre- 
sented. Among others, 

Mr. Adams, of Massachusetts, (ex-President of the United 
States) presented fifteen petitions, all numerously subscribed, 
from sundry inhabitants of Pennsylvania, all of the same 
purport, praying for the abolition of slavery and the slave 
trade in the District of Columbia, and moved that the first 
of them should be read, and it was read accordingly. 

Mr. A. then observed that it had doubtless been re- 
marked that these petitions came, not from Massachusetts, 
a portion of whose people he had the honor to represent, 
but from the citizens of the State of Pennsylvania. He 
had received the petitions many months ago, with a request 
that they should be presented ; and, although the petitions 
were not of his immediate constituents, he had not deemed 
himself at liberty to decline presenting their petitions, the 
transmission of which to him manifested a confidence in 
him for which he was bound to be grateful. From a letter 
which had accompanied these petitions, he inferred that 
they came from members of the Society of Friends, a body 
of men than whom there was no more respectable and 
worthy class of citizens ; none who more strictly made their 
lives a commentary on their professions ; a body of men 
comprising, in his firm opinion, as much of human virtue, 
as little of human infirmity, as any other equal number of 
men of any denomination on the face of the globe. 

The petitions, Mr. A. continued, asked for two things : 


the first was the abolition of slavery ; the second, the aboli- 
tion of the slave trade in the District of Columbia. There 
was a traffic of slaves carried on in the District, of which he 
did not know but that it might be a proper subject of legis- 
lation by Congress, and he therefore moved that the peti- 
tion he had the honor of presenting, should be referred to 
the committee on the affairs of the District of Columbia, 
who would dispose of them as they, upon examination of 
their purport, should deem proper, and might report on the 
expediency of granting so much of the prayer of the peti- 
tioners as referred to the abolition of the slave trade in the 

As to the other prayer of the petitioners, the abolition by 
Congress of slavery in the District of Columbia, it had oc- 
curred to him that the petitions might have been committed 
to his charge under an expectation that it would receive his 
countenance and support. He deemed it, therefore, his 
duty to declare that it would not. Whatever might be his 
opinion of slavery in the abstract, or of slavery in the Dis- 
trict of Columbia, it was a subject which he hoped would 
not be discussed in the House ; if it should be, he might 
perhaps assign the reasons why he could give it no counte- 
nance or support. At present, he would only say to the 
House, and to the worthy citizens who had committed their 
petitions to his charge, that the most salutary medicines, 
unduly administered, became the most deadly of poisons. He 
concluded by moving to refer the petitions to the committee 
for the District of Columbia. 

December 19, 1831. Mr. Doddridge, from the commit 
tee for the District of Columbia, made the following report, 
which was read and concurred in by the House : 

The committee for the District of Columbia have, accord- 
ing to order, had under their consideration the memorials 
of sundry citizens of the State of Pennsylvania, to them re- 
ferred, praying the passage of such law or laws by Congress, 


as may be necessary for the abolition of slavery and the 
slave trade within the said District, and beg leave to report 
thereon, in part. 

Considering that the District of Columbia is composed 
of cessions of territory made to the United States by the 
States of Virginia and Man land, in both of which States 
slavery exists, and the territories of which surround the Dis- 
trict, your committee are of an opinion, that until the wis- 
dom of State governments shall have devised some practi- 
cable means of eradicating or diminishing the evil of slavery, 
of which the memorialists complain, it would be unwise and 
impolitic, if not unjust, to the adjoining States, for Congress 
to interfere in a subject of such delicacy and importance as 
is the relation between master and slave. 

If, under any circumstances, such an interference on the 
part of Congress would be justified, your committee are 
satisfied that the present is an inauspicious moment for its 
consideration. Impressed with these views, your committee 
offer for the consideration of the House the following [reso- 
lution :] 

Resolved, That the committee for the District of Colum- 
bia be discharged from the further consideration of so much 
of the prayer of the memorialists — citizens of the State of 
Pennsylvania asking the passage of such law or laws as may 
be necessary for the abolition of slavery and the slave trade 
within said District — as relates to the first of these objects, 
the abolition of slavery within said District. 

December 21, 1835, petitions for the abolition of slavery 
in the District of Columbia, being under discussion, Hon. 
John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, — rose and said he 
hoped the motion to reconsider this vote would not prevail; 
and he expressed this hope for the very reason which the 
gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Patton], had assigned for 
voting in favor of the motion. It appears to me (said Mr. 
A)., that the only way of getting the question from the 


view of the House and of the nation, is to dispose of all 
petitions on the subject in the same way. This is not a new 
opinion ; I assumed this position in my very first act as a 
member of this House, from the very time when I first took 
my seat as a member of 22d Congress. At that time fifteen 
petitions were transmitted to me, not from my own consti- 
tuents, but from citizens of the Society of Friends in the 
State of Pennsylvania, with a request that I should present 
them to the House. Sir, I did so in homage to the sacred right 
of petition — a right which, in whatever manner it may be 
treated by other members of this House, shall never be 
treated by me other than with respect. 

But, sir, not being in favor of the object of the petitions, 
I then gave notice to the House and to the country, that 
upon the supposition that these petitions had been trans- 
mitted to me under the expectation that I should present 
them, I felt it my duty to say I should not support them. 
And, sir, the reason which I gave at that time for declin- 
ing to support them was precisely the same reason which 
the gentleman from Virginia now gives for reconsidering 
this motion — namely, to keep the discussion of the subject 
out of the House. I said, sir, that I believed this discus- 
sion would be altogether unprofitable to the House and to 
the country ; but, in deference to the sacred right of 
petition, I moved that these fifteen petitions, all of which 
were numerously signed, should be referred to the com- 
mittee on the District of Columbia, at the head of which 
was, at that time, a distinguished citizen of Virginia, now, 
I regret to say — and the whole country has occasion to re- 
gret — no more. These petitions were thus referred, and 
after a short period of time, the chairman of the committee 
on the District of Columbia made a report to this House, 
which report was read, and unanimously accepted ; and 
nothing more has been heard of these petitions from that 
day to this. In taking the course I then took, I was not 


sustained by the unanimous voice of my own constituents ; 
there were many among them, persons as respectable and 
as entitled to consideration as any others, who disapproved 
of the course I pursued on that occasion. 

Attempts were made within the district I then repre- 
sented to get up meetings of the people to instruct me to 
pursue a different course, or to multiply petitions of the 
same character. These efforts were continued during the 
whole of that long session of Congress ; but, I am gratified 
to add, without any other result than that, from one single 
town of the district which I had the honor to represent, a 
solitary petition was forwarded before the close of the ses- 
sion, with a request that I would present it to the House. 
Sir, I did present it, and it was referred to the same com- 
mittee on the District of Columbia, and I believe nothing 
more has been heard of it since. From the experience 
of this session, I was perfectly satisfied that the true and 
only method of keeping this subject out of discussion was, 
to take that course ; to refer all petitions of this kind to the 
committee on the District of Columbia, or some other com- 
mittee of the House, to receive their report, and to accept 
it unanimously. This does equal justice to all parties in 
the country ; it avoids the discussion of this agitating ques- 
tion on the one hand, and on the other, it pays due respect 
to the right of the constituent to petition. 

Two years afterwards, similar petitions were presented, 
and at that time an effort made, without success, to do that 
which has now been done successfully in one instance. An 
effort was made to lay these petitions on the table ; the 
House did not accede to the proposition : they referred the 
petitions as they had been before referred, and with the 
same result. For, from the moment that these petitions 
are referred to the committee on the District of Columbia, 
they all go to the family vault M of all the Capulets," and you 
will never hear of them afterwards. 


Extract from the speech of Hon. Silas Wright, of New 
York, in the Senate, Jan. 19, 1836, on the subject of abol- 
ishing slavery in the District of Columbia. 

Mr. Wright said he was not to discuss the subject of 
slavery in the abstract. He knew it, and the people of the 
North, as a body, knew it only as it existed under the 
Constitution of the United States, and was sanctioned by 
it. They thought of it in that light, and in that light only, 
so far as its existence in these States is concerned, and so far 
as the quiet of the country and the preservation of the Union 
are involved in any agitation of the subject. In that sense, 
it was not a question for discussion in that body. 

Neither was he to debate the question of slavery in the 
sovereign States of this Union. The sacred and invaluable 
compact which constitutes us one people, had not given to 
Congress the jurisdiction over that question. It was left 
solely and exclusively to those States, and, in his humble 
judgment, it ought never to be debated here in any manner 

Mr. W. said he would go farther, and say that he did not 
purpose to trouble the Senate with a discussion upon the 
propriety of any action on the part of Congress in reference 
to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, or in 
regard to the constitutional power of Congress over that 
subject. He had listened with pleasure and profit to the 
able argument of the honorable senator from Virginia (Mr. 
Leigh), upon the powers of Congress, and had marked his 
concessions of power equal to that possessed by the legisla- 
tures of the respective States of Maryland and Virginia 
over the same subject within those States. He had not 
studied the question himself, because he was able to mark 
out his own course, with perfect satisfaction to his own 
mind, without examining either the constitutional powers 
of Congress, or the powers of those State legislatures. He 
was ready to declare his opinion to be, that Congress ought 


not to act in this matter, but upon the impulse of the two 
States surrounding the District, and then in a manner pre- 
cisely graduated by the action of those States up an the same 
subject. Had the Constitution, in terms, given to Con- 
gress all power in the matter, this would, with his present 
views and feelings, be his opinion of the expedient rule of 
action, and entertaining this opinion, an examination into 
the power to act had been unnecessary to determine his 
vote upon the prayer of these petitions. He was ready 
promptly to reject their prayer, and he deeply regretted 
that he was not permitted so to vote without debate. 

Extract of a speech delivered in the United States Senate, 
by Mr. Buchanan, in 1835. 

" The Constitution has, in the clearest terms, recognized 
the right of property in slaves. It prohibits any State into 
which a slave may have fled from passing any law to dis- 
charge him from slavery, and declares that he shall be de- 
livered up by the authorities of such State to his master. 
Nay, more, it makes the existence of slavery the foundation 
of political powers, by giving to those States within which 
it exists representatives in Congress, not only in proportion 
to the whole number of free persons, but also in proportion 
to three-fifths of the number of slaves. 

M Sir, this question of domestic slavery is a weak point 
in our institutions. Tariffs may be raised almost to pro- 
hibition, and then they may be reduced so as to yield no 
adequate protection to the manufacturer ; our Union is 
sufficiently strong to endure the shock. Fierce political 
storms may arise ; the moral elements of the country may 
be convulsed by the struggles of ambitious men for the 
highest honors of government. The sunshine does not more 
certainly succeed the storm than that all will again be peace. 
Touch this question of slavery seriously — let it once be 
made manifest to the people of the South that they cannot 


live with us, except in a state of continual apprehension and 
alarm for their wives and their children, for all that is near 
and dear to them upon the earth, and the Union is from that 
moment dissolved. It does not then become a question of 
expediency, but of self-preservation. It is a question brought 
home to the fireside, to the domestic circle, of every white 
man in the Southern States." 


At the session of 1835, Mr. Buchanan presented to the 
Senate the memorial of the Society of Friends, adopted at 
their Cain quarterly meeting, requesting Congress to abol- 
ish slavery and the slave trade in the District of Columbia. 

Mr. Benton rose to express his concurrence in the sug- 
gestion of the Senator from Pennsylvania, [Mr. Buchanan,] 
that the consideration of this subject be postponed until 
Monday. It had come up suddenly and unexpectedly to- 
day, and the postponement would give an opportunity for 
senators to reflect, and to confer together, and to conclude 
what was best to be done, where all were united in wishing 
the same end, namely, to allay, and not to produce excite- 
ment. He had risen for this purpose ; but, being on his 
feet, he would say a few words on the general subject, which 
the presentation of these petitions had so suddenly and un- 
expectedly brought up. 

With respect to the petitioners, and those with whom 
they acted, he had no doubt but that many of them were 
good people, aiming at benevolent objects, and endeavoring to 
ameliorate the condition of one part of the human race, with- 
out inflicting calamities on another part ; but they were mis- 
taken in their mode of proceeding ; and so far from accom- 
plishing any part of their object, the whole effect of their 
interposition was to aggravate the condition of those in 
whose behalf they were interfering. 

But there was another part, and he meant to speak of the 


abolitionists generally, as the body containing the part of 
which he spoke ; there was another part whom he could not 
qualify as good people, seeking benevolent ends by mistaken 
means, but as incendiaries and agitators, with diabolical 
objects in view, to be accomplished by wicked and deplora- 
ble means. lie did not go into the proofs now to establish 
the correctness of his opinion of this latter class, but he pre- 
sumed it would be admitted that every attempt to work upon 
the passions of the slaves, and to excite, them to murder 
their owners, was a wicked and diabolical attempt, and the 
work of a midnight incendiary. Pictures of slave degrada- 
tion and misery, and of the white man's luxury and cruelty, 
were attempts of this kind ; for they were appeals to the 
vengeance of slaves, and not to the intelligence or reason of 
those who legislated for them. He [Mr. B.] had had many 
pictures of this kind, as well as many diabolical publica- 
tions, sent to him on this subject during the last summer; 
the whole of which he had cast into the fire, and should not 
have thought of referring to the circumstance at this time, 
as displaying the character of the incendiary part of the 
abolitionists, had he not, within these few days past, and 
while abolition petitions were pouring into the other end of 
the Capitol, received one of these pictures, the design of 
which could be nothing but mischief of the blackest dye. It 
was a print from an engraving, (and Mr. B. exhibited it, 
and handed it to senators near him,) representing a large 
and spreading tree of liberty, beneath whose ample shade a 
slave owner was at one time luxuriously reposing, with 
slaves fanning him : at another, carried forth in a palanquin, 
to view the half-naked laborers in the cotton field, whom 
drivers, with whips, were scourging to the task. The print 
was evidently from the abolition mint, and came to him by 
some other conveyance than that of the mail, for there was*, 
no post-mark of any kind to identify its origin, and to indi- 
cate its line of march. For what purpose could such a pic- 


ture be intended, unless to inflame the passions of slaves ? 
And why engrave it, except to multiply copies for extensive 
distribution ? But it was not pictures alone that operated 
upon the passions of the slaves ; but speeches, publications, 
petitions presented in Congress, and the whole machinery 
of abolition societies. None of these things went to the 
understandings of the slaves, but to their passions, all im- 
perfectly understood, and inspiring vague hopes, and stimu- 
lating abortive and fatal insurrections. Societies, especially, 
were the foundation of the greatest mischiefs. Whatever 
might be their objects, the slaves never did, and never can, 
understand them but in one way : as allies organized for 
action, and ready to march to their aid on the first signal 
of insurrection. It was thus that the massacre of San Do- 
mingo was made. The society in Paris, Les Amis des Noirs, 
friends of the blacks, with its affiliated societies throughout 
France and in London, made that massacre. And who com- 
posed that society ? In the beginning, it comprised the ex- 
tremes of virtue and of vice ; it contained the best and the 
basest of human kind. Lafayette and the Abbe Gregoire, 
those purest of philanthropists ; and Marat, and Anacharsis 
Cloots, those imps of hell in human shape. In the end, 
(for all such societies run the same career of degeneration,) 
the good men, disgusted with their associates, retired from 
the scene, and the wicked ruled at pleasure. Declamations 
against slavery, publications in gazettes, pictures, petitions 
to the constituent assembly, were the mode of proceeding ; 
and the fish women of Paris— he said it with humiliation, 
because American females had signed the petitions now be- 
fore us — the fish women of Paris, the very poissardes from 
the quays of the Seine, became the obstreperous champions 
of West India emancipation. 

The effect upon the French islands is known to the world ; 
but what is not known to the world, or not sufficiently 
known to it is, that the same societies which wrapt in flames 


and drenched in blood the beautiful island, which was then 
a garden and is now a wilderness, were the means of exciting 
an insurrection upon our continent, in Louisiana. 

At the session of 1830, the slavery question being under 
discussion in the Senate, 

Mr. Benton said, I was on the subject of slavery, as 
connected with the Missouri question, when last on the 

The Senator from South Carolina [Mr. Uayne], could 
see nothing in the question before the senate, nor in any 
previous part of the debate, to justify the introduction of 
that topic. Neither could I. lie thought he saw the 
ghost of the Missouri question brought in Among us. So 
did I. lie was astonished at the apparition. I was not: 
for a close observance of the signs in the west had prepared 
me for this development from the east. I was well prepared 
for that invective against slavery, and for that amplification 
of the blessings of exemption from slavery, exemplified in 
the condition of Ohio, which the Senator from Massachu- 
setts indulged in, and which the object in view required to 
be derived from the north east. I cut the root of that deri- 
vation by reading a passage from the journals of the old 
Congress ; but this will not prevent the invective and enco- 
mium from going forth to do their office ; nor obliterate the 
line which was drawn between the free State of Ohio and 
the slave State of Kentucky. If the only results of this in- 
vective and encomium were to exalt still higher the orato- 
rical fame of the speaker, I should spend not a moment in 
remarking upon them. But it is not to be forgotten that 
the terrible Missouri agitation took its rise from the "sub- 
stance of two speeches" delivered on this floor ; and since 
that time, anti-slavery speeches, coming from the same 
political and geographical quarter, are not to be disregarded 

What was said upon that topic was certainly intended for 


the north side of the Potomac and Ohio ; to the people 
then, of that division of the Union, I wish to address myself 
and to disabuse them of some erroneous impressions. 

To them I can truly say, that slavery, in the abstract, has 
but few advocates or defenders in the slaveholding States, 
and that slavery as it is, an hereditary institution descended 
upon us from our ancestors, would have fewer advocates 
among us than it has, if those who have nothing to do with 
the subject would only let us alone. The sentiment in favor 
of slavery was much weaker before those intermeddlers began 
their operations than it is at present. The views of leading 
men in the North and the South were indisputably the same 
in the earlier periods of our government. Of this our legis- 
lative history contains the highest proof. The foreign slave 
trade was prohibited in Virginia, as soon as the Revolution 

It was one of her first acts of sovereignty. In the con- 
vention of that State which adopted the federal Constitution, 
it was an objection to that instrument that it tolerated the 
African slave trade for twenty years. Nothing that has 
appeared since has surpassed the indignant denunciations 
of this traffic by Patrick Henry, George Mason, and others 
in that convention. 

Sir, I regard with admiration, that is to say, with wonder, 
the sublime morality of those who eannot bear the abstract 
contemplation of slavery, at the distance of five hundred or 
a thousand miles off. It is entirely above, that is to say, it 
affects a vast superiority over the morality of the primitive 
Christians, the Apostles of Christ, and Christ himself. 

Christ and the apostles appeared in a province of the 
Roman empire, when that empire was called the Roman 
world, and that world was filled with slaves. Forty millions 
was the estimated number, being one-fourth of the whole 
population. Single individuals held twenty thousand slaves. 

A freed man, one who had himself been a slave, died the 


possessor of four thousand — such were the numbers. The 
rights of the owners over this multitude of human beings 
was that of life and death, without protection from law or 
mitigation from public sentiment. 

The scourge, the cross, the fob-pond, the den of the wild 
beast, and the arena of the gladiator, was the lot of the 
slave, upon the slightest expression of the master's will. 

A law of incredible atrocity made all slaves responsible 
with their own lives for the life of their master ; it was the 
law that condemned the whole household of slaves to death, 
in case of the assassination of the master — a law under 
which as many as four hundred have been executed at a 

And the slaves were the white people of Europe, and of 
Asia Minor, the Greeks and other nations, from whom the 
present inhabitants of the world derive the most valuable 
productions of the human mind. 

Christ saw all this — the Dumber of slaves — their helpless 
condition — and their white color, which was the same with 
his own ; yet he said nothing against slavery ; he preached 
no doctrines which led to insurrection and massacre ; none 
which, in their application to the state of things in our 
country, would authorize an inferior race of blacks to ex- 
terminate that superior race of whites, in whose ranks he 
himself appeared upon earth. 

He preached no such doctrines, but those of a contrary 
tenor, which inculcated the duty of fidelity and obedience 
on the part of the slave — humanity and kindness on the part 
of the master. His apostles did the same. 

St. Paul sent back a runaway slave, Onesimus, to his 
owner, with a letter of apology and supplication. 

He was not the man to harbor a runaway, much less to 
entice him from his master; and least of all, to excite an 



{From "Benton's Thirty Years 1 View. 11 ) 

The most angry and portentous debate which had yet 
taken place in Congress, occurred at this time, in the House 
of Representatives. It was brought on by Mr. William 
Slade, of Yermont, who, besides presenting petitions of the 
usual abolition character, and moving to refer them to a 
committee, moved their reference to a select committee, 
with instructions to report a bill in conformity to their 
prayer. This motion, inflammatory and irritating in itself, 
and without practical legislative object, as the great ma- 
jority of the House was known to be opposed to it, was 
rendered still more exasperating by the manner of support- 
ing it. The mover entered into a general disquisition on 
the subject of slavery, all denunciatory, and was proceeding 
to speak upon it in the State of Virginia, and other States, 
in the same spirit, when Mr. Legare, of South Carolina, 
interposed, and hoped the gentleman from Yermont would 
allow him to make a few remarks before he proceeded fur- 
ther. He sincerely hoped that the gentleman would con- 
sider well what he was about, before he ventured on such 
ground, and that he would take time to consider what might 
be its probable consequences. He solemnly entreated him 
to reflect on the possible results of such a course, which in- 
volved the interests of a nation and a continent. Ho 
would warn him, not in the language of defiance, which all 
21 (321) 


brave and wise men despised, but he would warn him in the 
language of a solemn sense of duty, that if there was a 
spirit aroused in the north in relation to this subject, that 
spirit would encounter another spirit in the south, full as 
stubborn. He would tell them, that, when this question 
was forced upon the people of the south, they would be 
ready to take Dp the gauntlet. lie concluded by urging on 
the gentleman from Vermont to ponder well on his cour.-e 
before he ventured to proceed. 

Mr. Slade continued his remarks, when Mr. Dawson, 
of Georgia, asked him for the floor, that he might move an 
adjournment — evidently to carry off the storm which he 
saw rising. Mr. Slade refused to yield it; so the motion 
to adjourn could not be made. Mr. Slade continued, and 
was proceeding to answer his own Inquiry, put to himself — 
What teas slavery ? when Mr. Dawson again asked 
for the floor to make his motion of adjournment. Mr. 
Slade refused it. A visible commotion began to pervade 
the House — members rising, clustering together, and talk- 
ing with animation. 

Mr. Slade continued, and was about reading a judicial 
opinion in one of the southern States, w r hich defined a slave 
to be a chattel, when Mr. Wise called him to order for 
speaking beside the question — the question being upon the 
abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and Mr. 
Slade's remarks going to its legal character, as property, in 
a State. The Speaker, Mr. John White, of Kentucky, 
sustained the call, saying it w r as not in order to discuss the 
subject of slavery in any of the States. Mr. Slade denied 
that he was doing so, and said he was merely quoting a 
Southern judicial decision, as he might quote a legal opinion 
delivered in Great Britain. 

Mr. Robertson, of "Virginia, moved that the House ad- 
journ. The Speaker pronounced the motion (and cor- 
rectly) out of order, as the member from Yermont was in 


possession of the floor and addressing the House. He 
would, however, suggest to the member from Vermont, who 
could not but observe the state of the House, to confine 
himself strictly to the subject of his • motion. 

Mr. Slade went on, at great length, when Mr. Petrikin, 
of Pennsylvania, called him to order ; but the Chair did 
not sustain the call. Mr. Slade went on, quoting from the 
Declaration of Independence, and the Constitutions of the 
several States, and had got to that of Virginia, when Mr. 
Wise called him to order for reading papers without the 
leave of the House. The Speaker decided, that no paper, 
objected to, could be read without the leave of the House. 

Mr. Wise then said : That the gentleman had wantonly 
discussed the abstract question of slavery, going back to 
the very first day of the creation, instead of slavery as it 
existed in the District, and the powers and duties of Con- 
gress in relation to it. He was now examining the State 
Constitutions, to show, that as it existed in the States, it was 
against them, and against the laws of God and man. This 
was out of order. 

Mr. Slade explained, mid Argued in vindication of his 
course, and was about to read a memorial of Dr. Franklin, 
and an opinion of Mr. Madison on the subject of slavery, 
when the reading was objected to by Mr. Griffin, of South 
Carolina ; and the Speaker decided they could not be read 
without the permission of the House. 

Mr. Slade, without asking the permission of the House, 
which he knew would not be granted, assumed to under- 
stand the prohibition as extending only to himself per- 
sonally, said — "Then I send them to the clerk: let him 
read them." The Speaker decided that this was equally 
against the rule. 

Then Mr. Griffin withdrew the objection, and Mr. Slade 
proceeded to read the papers, and to comment upon them 
as he went on, and was about to go back to the State of 


Virginia, and show what had been the feeling there on the 
subject of slavery, previous to the date of Dr. Franklin's 

Mr. Rhett, of South Carolina, inquired of the Chair 
what the opinions of Virginia fifty years ago had to do 
with the case ? 

The Speaker was about to reply, when Mr. Wise rose 
with warmth, and said — M lie has discussed the whole ab- 
stract question of slavery: of slavery in Virginia; of sla- 
very in my own district ; and I now ask all my colleagues 
to retire with me from this ball." 

Mr. Slade reminded the Speaker that he had not yielded 
the floor; but his pro gra m was impeded by the condition 
of the llonse, and the many exclamations of members, 
among whom Mr. llalsey, of Georgia, was heard calling on 
the Georgia delegation to withdraw with him; and Mr. 
Rhett was heard proclaiming, that the South Carolina 
members had already consulted together, and agreed to 
have a meeting at three o'clock, in the committee room of 
the District of Columbia. Here the Speaker interposed to 
calm the House, standing up in his place and saying : 

•' The gentleman from Vermont had been reminded by 
the Chair that the discussiou of slavery, as existing within 
the States, was not in order ; when he was desirous to read 
a paper and it was objected to, the Chair had stopped him ; 
but the objection had been withdrawn, and Mr. Slade had 
been suffered to proceed ; he was now about to read another 
paper, and objection was made ; the Chair would therefore 
take the question on permitting it to be read." 

Many members rose, all addressing the Chair at the same 
time, aud many members leaving the hall, and a general 
scene of noise and confusion prevailing. 

Mr. Rhett succeeded in raising his voice above the roar 
of the tempest which raged in the House, and invited the 
delegations from all the slave States to retire from the hall 


forthwith, and meet in the committee room of the District of 
Columbia,. The Speaker again essayed to calm the House, 
and again standing up in his place, he recapitulated his 
attempts to preserve order, and vindicated the correctness 
of his own conduct — seemingly impugned by many. " What 
his personal feelings were on the subject (he was from a slave 
State) might easily be conjectured. He had endeavored 
to enforce the rules. Had it been in his power to restrain 
the discussion, he should promptly have exercised the 
power ; but it was not. 

Mr Slade continuing, said the paper which he wished to 
read was of the Continental Congress of 1TY4. The 
Speaker was about to put the question on leave, when Mr. 
Cost Johnson, of Maryland, inquired whether it would be 
in order to force the House to vote that the member from 
Vermont be not permitted to proceed ? The Speaker re- 
plied it would not. Then Mr. James J. McKay, of North 
Carolina, a clear, cool-headed, sagacious man — interposed 
the objection which headed Mr. Slade. 

There was a rule of the House, that when a member was 
called to order, he should take his seat ; and if decided to 
be out of order, he should not be allowed to speak again, 
except on leave of the House. Mr. McKay judged this 
to be a proper occasion for the enforcement of that rule ; 
and stood up and said : 

" That the gentleman had been pronounced out of order 
in discussing slavery in the States ; and the rule declared 
that when a member was so pronounced by the chair, he 
should take his seat, and if any one objected to his proceed- 
ing again, he should not do so, unless by leave of the House. 
Mr. McKay did now object to the gentleman from Vermont 
proceeding any further." 

Redoubled noise and confusion ensued — a crowd of mem- 
bers rising and speaking at once — who eventually yielded 
to the resounding blows of the speaker's hammer upon the 


lid of his desk, and his apparent desire to read something 
to the House, as he held a book (recognized to be that of 
the rules) in his hand. Obtaining quiet, so as to enable 
himself to be heard, he read the rule referred to by Mr. 
McKay; and said, that as objection had now for the first 
time been made under that rule to the gentleman 'fl resuming 
his speech, the Chair decided that he could not do so with- 
out the leave of the House. Mr. Slade attempted to go 
on ; the Speaker directed him to take his seat until the 
question of leave should be put. Then, Mr. Slade still 
keeping his feet, asked leave to proceed as in order, sayinir 
he would not discuss slavery in Virginia On that question 
Mr. Allen, of Vermont, asked the yeas and nays. 

Mr. Ileiieher, of North Carolina, moved an adjournment 
Mr. Adams, and many others, demanded the yeas and nays 
on this motion, whieli were ordered, and resulted in 106 
yeas and G3 nays — some fifty or sixty members having with- 
drawn. This opposition to adjournment was one of the 
worst features of that unhappy day's work — the only effect 
of keeping the House together being to increase irritation, 
and multiply the chances for an outbreak. 

From the beginning Southern members had been in favor 
of it, and essayed to accomplish it, but were prevented by 
the tenacity with which Mr. Slade kept possession of the 
floor : and now, at last, when it was time to adjourn any 
way — when the House was in a condition in which no good 
could be expected, and great harm might be apprehended, 
there were sixty-three members — being nearly one-third of 
the House — willing to continue it in session. 

The House then stood adjourned ; and as the adjourn- 
ment was being pronounced, Mr. Campbell, of South Caro- 
lina, stood upon a chair, and calling for the attention of 
members, said : 

" He had been appointed as one of the Southern delega- 
tion, to announce that all those gentlemen who represented 


slaveholding States, were invited to attend the meeting now 
being held in the district committee room." 

Members from the slaveholding States had repaired in 
large numbers to the room in the basement, where they 
were invited to meet. Yarious passions agitated them — 
some violent. Extreme propositions were suggested, of 
which Mr. Rhett, of South Carolina, in a letter to his con- 
stituents, gave a full account of his own — thus : 

" In a private and friendly letter to the Editor of the 
Charleston Mercury, amongst other events accompanying 
the memorable secession of the Southern members from the 
Hall of the House of Representatives, I stated to him, that 
I had prepared two resolutions, drawn as amendments to 
the motion of the member from Vermont, whilst he was dis- 
cussing the institution of slavery in the South declaring, 
that the Constitution having failed to protect the South in 
the peaceable possession and enjoyment of their rights and 
peculiar institutions, it was expedient that the Union should 
be dissolved ; and the other, appointing a committee of two 
members from each State, to report upon the best means of 
peaceably dissolving it! They were intended as amend- 
ments to a motion to refer with instructions to report a bill 
abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia. I expected 
them to share the fate, which inevitably awaited the original 
motion, so soon as the floor could have been obtained, viz., 
to be laid upon the table. My design in presenting them, 
was to place before Congress and the people, what in my 
opinion, was the true issue upon this great and vital ques- 
tion ; and to point out the course of policy by which it 
should be met by the Southern States." 

But extreme counsels did not prevail. There were mem- 
bers present, who well considered that, although the provo- 
cation was great, and the number voting for such a firebrand 
motion was deplorably large, yet it was but little more than 
one-fourth of the House, and decidedly 'less than one-half 



of the members from the free States : so that, even if left to 
the free State vote alone, the motion would have been 

But the motion itself, and the manner in which it was 
supported, was most reprehensible — necessarily leading to 
disorder in the House, the destruction of its harmony and 
capacity for useful legislation, tending to a sectional segre- 
gation of the members, the alienation of feeling between 
the North and South ; and alarm to all the slave holding 
States. The evil required a remedy, but not the remedy of 
breaking up the Union ; but one which might prevent the 
like in future, while administering a rebuke upon the past. 
That remedy was found in adopting a proposition to be 
offered to the House, which if agreed to, would close the 
door against any discussion upon abolition petitions in 
future, and assimilate the proceedings of the House, in that 
particular, to those of the Senate. This proposition was 
put into the hands of Mr. Patton of Virginia, to be offered 
as an amendment to the rules at the opening of the House 
the next morning. 

It was in these words : 

"Resolved, That all petitions, memorials and papers, 
touching the abolition of slavery or the buying, selling or 
transferring of slaves, in any State, District or Territory, of 
the United States, be laid on the table, without being debated, 
printed, read or referred, and that no further action what- 
ever shall be had thereon.'' 

Accordingly, at the opening of the House, Mr. Patton 
asked leave to submit the resolution — which was read for 

Mr. Adams objected to the grant of leave. 

Mr. Patton then moved a suspension of the rules — which 
motion required two-thirds to sustain it; and unless obtained, 
this salutary remedy for an alarming evil (which was already 
in force in the Senate), could not be offered. It was a test 


motion, and on which the opponents of abolition agitation 
in the House required all their strength : for unless two to 
one, they were defeated. 

Happily the two to one were ready, and on taking the 
yeas and nays, demanded by an abolition member (to keep 
his friends to the track, and to hold the free State anti- 
abolitionists to their responsibility at home), the result 
stood one hundred and thirty-five yeas to sixty nays — the 
full two-thirds, and fifteen over. The yeas on this import- 
ant motion, were : 

Messrs. Hugh J. Anderson, John J. Andrews, Charles 
G. Atherton, William Beatty, Andrew Beirne, John Bell, 
Bennet Bicknell, Richard Biddle, Samuel Birdsall, Ratliff 
Boon, James W. Bouldin, John C. Brodhead, Isaac H. 
Bronson, Andrew D. W. Bruyn, Andrew Buchanan, John 
Calhoun, C. C. Cambreleng, Wm. B. Campbell, John 
Campbell, Timothy J. Carter, Wm. B. Carter, Zadok Casey, 
John Chambers, John Chaney, Reuben Chapman, Richard 
Cheatham, Jonathan Cilley, John F. H. Claiborne, Jesse 
F. Cleaveland, Wm. K. Clowney, Walter Coles, Thomas 
Corwin, Robert Craig, John W. Crockett, Samuel Cush- 
man, Edmund Deberry, John J. DeGraff, John Dennis, 
George C. Dromgoole, John Edwards, James Farrington, 
John Fairfield, Jacob Fry, Jr., James Garland, James 
Graham, Seaton Grantland, Abr'm. P. Grant, William 
J. Graves, Robert H. Hammond, Thomas L. Hamar, 
James Harlan, Albert G. Harrison, Richard Hawes, 
Micajah T. Hawkins, Charles E. Haynes, Hopkins Holsey, 
Orrin Holt, George W. Hopkins, Benjamin C. Howard, 
Edward B. Hubly, Jabez Jackson, Joseph Johnson, Wm 
Cost Johnson, John W. Jones, Gouverneur Kemble, Daniel 
Kilgore, John Klingensmith Jr., Jacob Lawler, Hugh S. 
Legare, Henry Logan, Francis S. Lyon, Francis Mallory, 
James M. Mason, Joshua L. Martin, Abram P. Maury, 
Wm. S. May, James J. McKay, Robert McClcllan, 


Abraham McClelland, Charles McOlure, Isaac MeKim, 
Richard II. Menefee, Charles P. Ileroer, William Mont- 
gomery, Ely Moore, Wm. 8. Morgan, Samuel W. Morris, 
ilenry A. Muhlenberg, John L. Murray, Win. II. Noble, 
John Palmer, Aimisa I. Parker, John M. PattOQ, Lemuel 
Payuter, Isaac 8. Pennybacker, David Petrikin, Lancelot 
Phelps, Arnold Plotter, Zadock Pratt, John 11. Ptfentka, 

Luther K'-ily, Abraham Kenehrr, .John Kobcrtvui, Samuel T. 
Sawyer, Augustine 11. Shepperd, Charles Shepard, EbeiMSef 
J. Shields, Matthias Bheplor, Francis 0. J. Smith, Adam 

W. Snyder, Wm. W. Boatbgate, James B. Spencer, Ed- 

ward Stanly, Archibald Stuart, Win. St. me, John Talia- 
ferro, Win. Taylor, Obadiah Titus, I>aac Toocey, Hopkins 
L. Tnrney, Joseph U. Underwood, Henry Vail, I>a\id D. 
Wagner, Taylor Webster, Joseph Weeks, Albert S. White, 
John White, Thomas J. Whittlesey, Lewis Williams, 
Sherrod Williams, Jared W. Williams, Joseph L. Williams, 
Christ t 11. Williams, Henry A. Wise, Archibald Yell. 

The Nays were : 

Messrs. John Quincy Adams, James Alexander, Jr., 
lleman Allen, John W. Allen, J. Banker Aycrigg, Wm. 
Key Bond, Nathaniel B. Borden, George N. Briggs, Win. 

B. Calhoun, Charles D. Coffin, Robert B. Cranston, Caleb 
Cashing, Edward Darlington, Thomas Davee, Edward 
Davies, Alexander Duncan, George H. Dunn, George 
Evans, Horace Everett, John Ewing, Isaac Fletcher, Mil- 
lard Fillmore, Henry A. Foster, Patrick G. Goods, George 
Grennell, Jr., Elisha Haley, Hiland Hall, Alexander Har- 
per, Wm. S. Hastings, Thomas Henry, Wm. Herod, 
Samuel Ingham, Levi Lincoln, Richard P. Marvin, Sam- 
son Mason, John P. B. Maxwell, Thos. M. T. McKennan, 
Matthias Morris, Calvary Morris, Charles Naylor, Joseph 

C. Noyes, Charles Ogle, Wm. Parmenter, Wm. Patterson, 
Luther C. Peck, Stephen C, Phillips, David Potts, Jr., 
James Rariden, Joseph F. Randolph, John Reed, Joseph 


Ridgway, David Russell, Daniel Sheffer, Mark H. Sibley. 
Wm. Slade, Charles C. Stratton, Joseph L. Tillinghast, 
Geo. W. Toland, Elisha Whittlesey, Thomas Jones Yorke. 

This was one of the most important votes ever delivered 
in the House. Upon its issue depended the quiet of the 
House on one hand, or on the other, the renewal, and per- 
petuation of the scenes of the day before — ending in break- 
ing up all deliberation, and all national legislation. 

It was successful, and that critical step being safely over, 
the passage of the resolution was secured — the free State 
friendly vote being itself sufficient to carry it : but although 
the passage of the resolution was secured, yet resistance to 
it continued. 

Thus was stifled, and in future prevented in the House, 
the inflammatory debates on these disturbing petitions. It 
was the great session of their presentation — being offered 
by hundreds, and signed by hundreds of thousands of per- 
sons — many of them women, who forgot their sex and their 
duties, to mingle in such inflammatory work ; some of them 
clergyman, who forgot their mission of peace, to stir up 
strife among those who should be brethren. Of the per- 
tinacious 63, who backed Mr. Slade throughout, the 
most notable were Mr. Adams, who had been President of 
the United States — Mr. Fillmore, who became so — and 
Mr. Caleb Cashing, who eventually became as ready to 
abolish all impediments to the general diffusion of slavery, 
as he then was to abolish slavery in the District of Colum- 
bia. It was a portentous contest. 

The motion of Mr. Slade was not for an inquiry into the 
expediency of abolishing slavery in the District of Colum- 
bia (a motion in itself sufficiently inflammatory), but to get 
the command of the House to bring in a bill for that pur- 
pose — which would be a decision of the question. 

His motion failed. The storm subsided ; and very few 
of tin free State members who had staked themselves on 


the issue, lost anything among their constituents for the 
devotion which they had shown to the Union,* 

From Mr. Clay's great speech in the U. S. Senate, Feb- 
ruary 7 th, 1830. 

11 It is well known to the Senate," said Mr. Clay, "that 
I have thought that the most judicious course with abolition 
petitions has not of late been pursued by Congress. 

"I have believed that it would have been wisest to have 
received and referred them, without opposition, and to have 
reported against their object in a calm and dispassionate 
and argumentative appeal to the good sense of the whole 
community. It has been supposed, however, by a majority 
of Congress, that it was most expedient either not to receive 
the petitions at all, or, if formally reeeived, not to act 
definitively upon them. There is no substantial difference 
between these opposite opinions, since both look to an ab- 
solute rejection of the prayers of the petitioners. But 
there is a great difference in the form of proceeding ; and, 
Mr. President, some experience in the conduct of human 
affairs has taught me to believe that a neglect to observe 
established forms is often attended with more mischievous 
consequences than the infliction of a positive injury. We 
all know that, even in private life, a violation of the exist- 
ing usages and ceremonies of society cannot take place 
without serious prejudice. I fear, sir, that the abolitionists 
have acquired a considerable apparent force by blending 
with the object which they have in view a collateral and 
totally different question arising out of an alleged violation 
of the right of petition. I know full well, and take great 

* This resolution afterward became notorious, from the stigma 
cast upon it by the abolitionists, as the "Gag Rule." Hon. 
David Wilmot, of Pennsylvania, among others, voted against 
its repeal in the Congress of '46 — 7. It has since, however, 
been repealed. 


pleasure in testifying, that nothing was remoter from the 
intention of the majority of the Senate, from which I dif 
fered, than to violate the right of petition in any case in 
which, according to its judgment, that right could be con 
stitutionally exercised, or where the object of the petition 
could be safely or properly granted. Still, it must be owned 
that the abolitionists have seized hold of the fact of the 
treatment which their petitions have received in Congress, 
and made injurious impressions upon the minds of a large 
portion of the community. This, I think, might have been 
avoided by the course which I should have been glad to 
have seen pursued. 

And I desire now, Mr. President, to advert to some of 
those topics which I think might have been usefully em- 
bodied in a report by a committee of the Senate, and which, 
I am persuaded, would have checked the progress, if it had 
not altogether arrested the efforts of abolition. I am sen- 
sible, sir, that this work would have been accomplished with 
much greater ability, and with much happier effect, under 
the auspices of a committee, than it can be by me. But, 
anxious as I always am to contribute whatever is in my 
power to the harmony, concord, and happiness of this great 
people, I feel myself irresistibly impelled to do whatever is in 
ray power, incompetent as I feel myself to be, to dissuade the 
public from continuing to agitate a subject fraught with 
the most direful consequences. 

There are three classes of persons opposed, or appa- 
rently opposed, to the continued existence of slavery in the 
United States. The first are those who, from sentiments 
of philanthropy and humanity, are conscientiously opposed 
to the existence of slavery, but who are no less opposed at 
the same time to any disturbance of the peace and tran- 
quillity of the Union, or the infringement of the powers of 
the States composing the confederacy. In this class may 
be comprehended that peaceful and exemplary society of 


"Friends," one of whose established maxims is an abhorrence 
of war in all its forms, and the cultivation of peace and 
{rood-will amongst mankind. The next class consists of 
apparent abolitionists — that is, those who, having been per- 
suaded that the right of petition lias been violated by Con- ' 
press, co-operate with the abolitionist for the sole purpose 
of asserting and vindicating that right. And the third 
class are the real ultra-abolitionists, who are resolved to 
persevere in the pursuit of their object at all hazards, and 
without regard to any consequences, however calamitous 
they may be. With them the rights of property are no- 
thing; the deficiency of the powers of the general govern- 
ment is nothing ; the acknowledged and incontestable 
powen of the States are nothing; civil war, a dissolution 
of the Union, and the overthrow of a government in which 
are concentrated the fondest hopes of the civilized world, 
are nothing. A single idea has taken possession of their 
minds, and onward they pursue it, overlooking all barriers, 
reckless and regardless of all consequences. With this 
class, the immediate abolition of slavery in the District of 
Columbia, and in the Territory of Florida, the prohibition 
of the removal of slaves from State to State, and the refusal 
to admit any new State comprising within its limits the in- 
stitution of domestic slavery, are but so many means con- 
ducing to the accomplishment of the ultimate but perilous 
end at which they avowedly and boldly aim, are but so 
many short stages in the long and bloody road to the dis- 
tant goal at which they would finally arrive. Their purpose 
is abolition, universal abolition, peaceably if it can, forcibly 
if it must. Their object is no longer concealed by the 
thinnest veil ; it is avowed and proclaimed. Utterly desti- 
tute of constitutional or other rightful power, living in 
totally distinct communities, as alien to the communities in 
which the subject on which they would operate resides, so 
far as concerns political power over that subject, as if they 


lived in Africa or Asia ; they nevertheless promulgate to the 
world their purpose to be to manurait forthwith, and with 
out compensation, and without moral preparation, three 
millions of negro slaves, under jurisdictions altogether sepa- 
rated from those under which they live. 

I have said that immediate abolition of slavery in the 
District of Columbia and in the Territory of Florida, and 
the exclusion of new States, were only means towards the 
attainment of a much more important end. Unfortunately, 
they are not the only means. Another, and much more 
lamentable one, is that which this class is endeavoring to 
employ, of arraying one portion against another portion of 
the Union. With that view, in all their leading prints and 
publications, the alleged horrors of slavery are depicted in 
the most glowing and exaggerated colors, to excite the 
imaginations and stimulate the rage of the people in the 
free States against the people in the slave States. The 
slaveholder is held up and represented as the most atrocious 
of human beings. Advertisements of fugitive slaves to be 
sold are carefully collected and blazoned forth, to infuse a 
spirit of detestation and hatred against one entire and the 
largest section of the Union. And like a notorious agitator 
upon another theatre, (Mr. Daniel O'Connell,) they would 
hunt down and proscribe from the pale of civilized society 
the inhabitants of that entire section. Allow me, Mr. 
President, to say, that w r hilst I recognize in the justly 
wounded feelings of the Minister of the United States at 
the court of St. James much to excuse the notice which he 
was provoked to take of that agitator, in my humble 
opinion, he would better have consulted the dignity of his 
station and of his country in treating him with contemptu- 
ous silence. That agitator would exclude us from European 
society — he who himself can only obtain a contraband ad- 
mission, and is received with scornful repugnance into it I 
If he be no more desirous of our society than we are of 


liis, he may rest assured that a state of etornal non-inter- 
course will oxist between us. Yes, sir, I think the American 
Minister would have best pursued the dictates of true dig- 
nity by regarding the language of that member of the 
British Ilouse of Commons as the malignant ravings of the 
plunderer of his own country, and the libeler of a foreign 
and kindred people. 

Bat the means to which I have already adverted are 
not the only ones which this third class of ultra-abolitionists 
are employing to effect their ultimate end. They began 
their operations by professing to employ only persuasive 
means in appealing to the humanity, and enlightening the 
understandings, of the slavehohling portion of the Union. 
If there were some kindness in this avowed motive, it BNtt 
bo Acknowledged that there was rather a presumptuous 
display also of an assumed superiority in intelligence and 
knowledge. For some time they continued to make these 
appeals to our duty and our interest ; but, impatient with 
the slow influence of their logic upon our stupid minds, 
they recently resolved to change their system of action. 
To the agency of their powers of persuasion, they now 
propose to substitute the powers of the ballot box ; and he 
must be blind to what is passing before us, who does not 
perceive that the inevitable tendency of their proceedings 
is, if these should be found insufficient, to invoke, finally, 
the more potent powers of the bayonet. 

Mr. President, it is at this alarming stage of the pro- 
ceedings of the ultra-abolitionists that I would seriously 
invite every considerate man in the country solemnly to 
pause, and deliberately to reflect, not merely on our existing 
posture, but upon that dreadful precipice down which they 
would hurry us. It is because these ultra-abolitionists have 
ceased to employ the instruments of reason and persuasion, 
have made their cause political, and have appealed to the 


ballot box, that I am induced, upon this occasion, to ad- 
dress you. 

There have been three epochs in the history of our 
country at which the spirit of abolition displayed itself. 
The first was immediately after the formation of the present 
federal government. When the Constitution was about 
going into operation, its powers were not well understood 
by the community at large, and remained to be accurately 
interpreted and defined. At that period numerous abo- 
lition societies were formed, comprising not merely the So- 
ciety of Friends, but many other good men. Petitions were 
presented to Congress praying for the abolition of slavery. 
They were received without serious opposition, referred, 
and reported upon by a committee. The report stated that 
the general government had no power to abolish slavery as 
it existed in the several States, and that these States them- 
selves had exclusive jurisdiction over the subject. The 
report was generally acquiesced in, and satisfaction and 
tranquillity ensued ; the abolition societies thereafter limit- 
ing their exertions, in respect to the black population, to 
offices of humanity within the scope of existing laws. 

The next period when the subject of slavery and abo- 
lition, incidentally, was brought into notice and discussion, 
was on the memorable occasion of the admission of the 
State of Missouri into the Union. The struggle was long, 
strenuous, and fearful. It is too recent to make it necessary 
to do more than merely advert to it, and to say that it was 
finally composed by one of those compromises characteristic 
of our institutions, and of which the Constitution itself is 
the most signal instance. 

The third is that in which we now find ourselves, and 
to which various causes have contributed. The principal 
one, perhaps, is British emancipation in the islands adjacent 
to our continent. Confounding the totally different cases 
of the powers of the British Parliament and those of our 


Congress, and the totally different conditions of the slaves 
in the British West India [standi ami tin- Blare* iii the 
sovereign and independent States of this <•■ nfederacy, ttiper- 
ficial men have inferred from the nndeeided British experi- 
ment the practibility of the abolition of slavery in th- 
States. All these are different. The i><»wcrs of the British 
Parliament are unlimited, and often described to be omnipo- 
tent. The puwm-s of the American Congress, on (he con- 
trary, arc few, cautiously limited, scrupulously excluding all 
that are not granted, ami aboveall, carefhHyand absolutely 

excluding all power over the existence or eontiiiuanee of 
.slavery in the Several States. The Blares, too. opon which 
British legislation operated, were not in the bosom of the 

kingdom, but in remote and feeble colonics, having no voice 
in Parliament. The Weal India .slaveholder was neither 

representative nor represented in that Parliament And 

while I most fervently wish complete success to the British 
experiment of W est India emancipation, I confess that I 
have fearful forebodings of a disastrous termination Of it. 
Whatever it may be, I think it must be admitted that, if 
the British Parliament treated the West India slaves as 
freemen, it also treated the West India freemen as slaves. 
If, instead of these slaves being separated by a wide ocean 
from the parent country, three or four millions of African 
negro slaves had been dispersed over England, Scotland, 
Wales, and Ireland, and their owners had been members 
of the British Parliament — a case which would have pre- 
sented some analogy to that of our own country — does any 
one believe that it would have been expedient or practicable 
to have emancipated them, leaving them to remain, with all 
their embittered feelings, in the United Kingdom, boundless 

as the powers of the British Parliament are ? 

And now, Mr. President, allow me to consider the sev- 
eral cases in which the authority of Congress is invoked by 


these abolition petitioners upon the subject of domestic 
slavery. The first relates to it as it exists in the District 
of Columbia. The following is the provision of the Con- 
stitution of the United States in reference to that matter : 

lt To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever 
over such District (not exceeding ten miles square,) as may 
by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Con- 
gress, become the seat of government of the United States." 

This provision preceded, in point of time, the actual ces- 
sions which were made by the States of Maryland and 
Virginia. The object of the cession was to establish a seat 
of government of the United States, and the grant in the 
Constitution of exclusive legislation, must be understood, 
and should be always interpreted, as having relation to the 
object of the cession. It was with a full knowledge of this 
clause in the Constitution, that those two States ceded to 
the general government the ten miles square constituting 
the District of Columbia. In making the cession, they 
supposed that it was to be applied, and applied solely, to 
the purposes of a seat of government, for which it was 
asked. When it was made, slavery existed in both those 
commonwealths, and in the ceded territory, as it now con- 
tinues to exist in all of them. Neither Maryland nor Vir- 
ginia could have anticipated, that, whilst the institution 
remained within their respective limits, its abolition would 
be attempted by Congress without their consent. Neither 
of them would probably have made an unconditional cession 
if they could have anticipated such a result. 

From the nature of the provision in the Constitution, and 
the avowed object of the acquisition of the territory, two 
duties arise on the part of Congress. The first is, to ren- 
der the District available, comfortable, and convenient, as 
a seat of government of the whole Union ; the other is, to 
govern the people within the District so as best to promote 
their happiness and prosperity. These objects are totally 


distinct in their nature, and, in interpreting and exercising 
the grant of the power of exclusive legislation, that distinc- 
tion should be constantly borne in mind. Is it necessary, 
in order to render this place a comfortable seat of the gen- 
eral government, to abolish slavery within its limits ? No 
one can or will advance such a proposition. The govern- 
ment has remained here near forty years without the slight- 
est inconvenience from the presence of domestic slavery. 
Is it necessary to the well-being of the people of the Dis- 
trict, that slavery should be abolished from amongst them ? 
They not only neither ask nor desire, but are almost unani- 
mously opposed to it. It exists here in the mildest and 
most mitigated form. In a population of 39,834, there 
were, at the last enumeration of the population of the 
United States, but 6,119 slaves. The number has not 
probably much increased since. They are dispersed over 
the ten miles square, engaged in the quiet pursuits of hus- 
bandry, or in menial offices in domestic life. If it were 
necessary to the efficiency of this place as a seat of the 
general government, to abolish slavery, which is utterly 
denied, the abolition should be confined to the necessity 
which prompts it, that is, to the limits of the city of Wash- 
ington itself. Beyond those limits, persons concerned in 
the government of the United States have no more to do 
with the inhabitants of the District, than they have with the 
inhabitants of the adjacent counties of Maryland and Vir- 
ginia which lie beyond the District. 

To abolish slavery within the District of Columbia, 
whilst it remains in Virginia and Maryland, situated as that 
District is, within the very heart of those States, would ex- 
pose them to great practical inconvenience and annoyance. 
The District would become a place of refuge and escape for 
fugitive slaves from the two States, and a place from which 
a spirit of discontent, insubordination and insurrection, 
might be fostered and encouraged in the two States. Sup- 


pose, as was at one time under consideration, Pennsylvania 
had granted ten miles square within its limits, for the pur* 
pose of a seat of the general government : could Congress, 
without a violation of good faith, have introduced and es- 
tablished slavery within the bosom of that Commonwealth 
in the ceded territory, after she had abolished it so long ago 
as the year 1780 ? Yet the inconvenience to Pennsylvania 
in the case supposed, would have been much less than that 
to Virginia and Maryland, in the case we are arguing. 

It was upon this view of the subject that the Senate, at 
its last session, solemnly declared, that it would be a viola- 
tion of implied faith, resulting from the transaction of the 
cession, to abolish slavery within the District of Columbia. 
And would it not be ? By implied faith, is meant, that 
when a grant is made for one avowed and declared purpose, 
known to the parties, the grant should not be perverted to 
another purpose, unavowed and undeclared, and injurious 
to the grantor. The grant in the case we are considering, 
of the territory of Columbia, was for a seat of government 
Whatever power is necessary to accomplish that object, is 
carried along by the grant. But the abolition of slavery, is 
not necessary to the enjoyment of this site as a seat of the 
general government. The grant in the Constitution of ex- 
clusive power of legislation over the District, was made to 
insure the exercise of an exclusive authority of the general 
government, to render this place a safe and secure seat of 
government, and to promote the well-being of the inhabi- 
tants of the District. The power granted ought to be in- 
terpreted and exercised solely to the end for which it was 
granted. The language of the grant was necessarily broad, 
comprehensive, and exclusive, because all the exigencies 
which might arise to render this a secure seat of the gen- 
eral government, could not have been foreseen and provided 
for. The language may possibly be sufficiently comprehen- 
sive to include a power of abolition ; but it would not at 


all thence follow, that the power could be rightfully exer- 
cised. The case may be resembled to that of a plenipo- 
tentiary invested with a plenary power, but who at the same 
time has positive instructions from his government, as to 
the kind of treaty which he is to negotiate and conclude. 
If he violates those instruct ions, and concludes a different 
treaty, his government is not bound by it ; and if the foreign 
government is aware of the violation, it acts in bad faith. 
Or it may be illustrated by an example drawn from private 
life. I am an endorser for my friend on a note discounted 
in bank. lie applies to me to endorse another, to renew it, 
which I do, in blank. Now, this gives him power to make 
any other use of my note which he pleases. But if, instead 
of applying it to the intended purpose, he goes to a broker 
and sells it, thereby doubling my responsibility for him, he 
commits a breach of trust, and a violation of the good faith 

implied in the whole transaction. 


The first impediment is the utter and absolute want of all 
power on the part of the general government to effect the 
purpose. The Constitution of the United States creates a 
limited government, comprising comparatively few powers, 
and leaving the residuary mass of political power in the pos- 
session of the several States. It is well known that the 
subject of slavery interposed one of the greatest difficulties 
in the formation of the Constitution. It was happily com- 
promised and adjusted in a spirit of harmony and patriotism. 
According to that compromise, no power whatever was 
granted to the general government in respect to domestic 
slavery, but that which relates to taxation and representa- 
tion, and the power to restore fugitive slaves to their lawful 
owners. All other power in regard to the institution of 
slavery was retained exclusively by the States, to be exer- 
cised by them severally, according to their respective views 
of their own peculiar interest. The Constitution of the 


United States never could have been formed upon the prin- 
ciple of investing the general government with authority to 
abolish the institution at its pleasure. It never can be 
continued for a single clay if the exercise of such a power 
be assumed or usurped. 

But it may be contended by these ultra-abolitionists that 
their object is not to stimulate the action of the general 
government, but to operate upon the States themselves in 
which the institution of domestic slavery exists. If that be 
their object, why are these abolition societies and move- 
ments all confined to the free States ? Why are the slave 
States wantonly and cruelly assailed ? Why do the aboli- 
tion presses teem with publications tending to excite hatred 
and animosity on the part of the inhabitants of the free 
States against those of the slave States ? Why is Congress 
petitioned ? The free States have no more power or right 
to interfere with institutions in the slave States, confided to 
the exclusive jurisdiction of those States, than they would 
have to interfere with institutions existing in any foreign 
country. What would be thought of the formation of soci- 
eties in Great Britain, the issue of numerous inflammatory 
publications, and the sending out of lecturers throughout 
the kingdom, denouncing and aiming at the destruction of 
any of the institutions of France ? Would they be regarded 
as proceedings warranted by a good neighborhood ? Or 
what would be thought of the formation of societies in the 
slave States, the issue of violent and inflammatory tracts, and 
the deputation of missionaries, pouring out impassioned de- 
nunciations against institutions under the exclusive control of 
the free States ? Is their purpose to appeal to our understand- 
ings, and to actuate our humanity ? And do they expect to 
accomplish that purpose by holding us up to the scorn, and 
contempt, and detestation of the people of the free States 
and the whole civilized world ? The slavery which exists 
amongst us is our affair, not theirs ; and they have no more 


just concern with it than they have with slavery as it exists 
throughout the world. Why not leave it to us, as the com- 
mon Constitution of our country lias left it, to be dealt with, 

under the guidance of Providence, as best we may or can ? 

I know that there is a visionary dogma which holds that 
negro slaves cannot be the subject of property. I shall not 
dwell long with this speculative abstraction. That is prop- 
erty which the law declares to be property. Two hundred 
years of legislation have sanctioned and sanctified negro slaves 
as property. Under all the forms of government which 
have existed upon this continent during that long space of 
time — under the British government — under the colonial 
government — under all the State constitutions and govern- 
ments — and under the federal government itself — they have 
been deliberately and solemnly recognized as the legitimate 
subjects of property. To the wild speculations of theorists 
and innovators stands opposed the fact, that in an uninter- 
rupted period of two hundred years' duration, under every 
form of human legislation, and by all the departments of 
human government, African negro slaves have been held 
and respected, have descended and been transferred, as law- 
ful and indisputable property. They were treated as prop- 
erty in the very British example which is so triumphantly 
appealed to as worthy of our imitation. Although the 
West India planters had no voice in the united Parliament 
of the British Isles, an irresistible sense of justice extorted 
from that legislature the grant of twenty millions of pounds 
sterling to compensate the colonists for their loss of property. 

Sir, I am not in the habit of speaking lightly of the pos- 
sibility of dissolving this happy Union. The Senate knows 
that I have deprecated allusions on ordinary occasions to 
that direful event. The country will testify that if there be 
anything in the history of my public career worthy of re- 


collection, it is the truth and sincerity of my ardent devotion 
to its lasting preservation. But we should be false in our al- 
legiance to it, if we did not discriminate between the imagi- 
nary and real dangers by which it may be assailed. Aboli- 
tion should no longer be regarded as an imaginary danger. 
The Abolitionists, let me suppose, succeed in their present 
aim of uniting the inhabitants of the free States as one man 
against the inhabitants of the slave States. Union on the 
one side will beget uuion on the other ; and this process of 
reciprocal consolidation will be attended with all the vio- 
lent prejudices, embittered passions, and implacable ani- 
mosities which ever degraded or deformed human nature. 
A virtual dissolution of the Union will have taken place, 
whilst the forms of its existence remain. The most valuable 
elements of union, mutual kindness, the feelings of sym- 
pathy, the fraternal bonds, which now happily unite us, will 
have been extinguished forever. One Section will stand in 
menacing and hostile array against the other. The collision 
of opinion will be quickly followed by the clash of arms. I 
will not attempt to describe scenes which now happily lie 
concealed from our view. Abolitionists themselves would 
shrink back in dismay and horror at the contemplation of 
desolated fields, conflagrated cities, murdered inhabitants, 
and the overthrow of the fairest fabric of human government 
that ever rose to animate the hopes of civilized man. Nor 
should these Abolitionists flatter themselves that, if they 
can succeed in their object of uniting the people of the free 
States, they will enter the contest with a numerical super- 
iority that must insure victory. All history and experience 
proves the hazard and uncertainty of war. And we are 
admonished by holy writ that the " race is not to the swift, 
nor the battle to the strong. " But if they were to conquer, 
whom would they conquer ? A foreign foe — one who had 
insulted our flag, invaded our shores, and laid our country 
waste ? No, sir ; no, sir. It would be a conquest without 


laurels, without glory — a self, a suicidal conquest — a con- 
quest of brothers over brothers, achieved by one over an- 
other portion of the descendants of common ancestors, who 

nobly pledging their lives, their fortunes, ami their sacred 
honor, had foDght and bled, >ide by Bide, IP many a hard 

battle on land and ocean, severed our country from the 
British Crown, and established oar national independence. 

The inhabitants of the sla. mctiim- 

ensed by their Northern brethren with displaying too nmeh 

rashness ami sensibility to the operations ami proceedings of 

Abolitionists, Bat, before tiny can be rightly judged, there 

should be a reversal of conditions. Let me snppOBC that 
the people of the slave States were to form societies, sub- 
sidize presses, make large pecuniary contributions, send 
forth numerous missionaries throughout all their own bor- 
ders, and enter into machinations to burn the beautiful 
capitals, destroy the productive manufactories, and sink in 
the ocean the gallant ships of the Northern States. Would 
these incendary proceedings be regarded as neighborly ami 
friendly, and consistent with the fraternal sentiments which 
should ever be cherished by one portion of the Union to- 
wards another ? Would they excite no emotion ? occasion 
no manifestations of dissatisfaction, nor lead to any acts of 
retaliatory violence ? But the supposed case falls far short 
of the actual one in a most essential circumstance. In no 
contingency could these capitals, manufactories, and ship<, 
rise in rebellion and massacre inhabitants of the Northern 

I am, Mr. President, no friend of slavery. The Searcher 
of all Hearts knows that every pulsation of mine beats high 
and strong in the cause of civil liberty. Wherever it is 
safe and practicable, I desire to see every portion of the 
human family in the enjoyment of it. But I prefer the 
liberty of my own country to that of any other people, and 
the liberty of my own race to that of any other race. The 


liberty of the descendants of Africa in the United States is 
incompatible with the safety and liberty of the European 
descendants. There slavery forms an exception — an excep- 
tion resulting from a stern and inexorable necessity — to the 
general liberty in the United States. We did not originate, 
nor are we responsible for, this necessity. Their liberty, if 
it were possible, could only be established by violating the 
incontestable powers of the States, and subverting the 
Union ; and beneath the ruins of the Union would be buried, 
sooner or later, the liberty of both races. 

But if one dark spot exists on our political horizon, is it 
not obscured by the bright and effulgent and cheering light 
that beams all around us ? Was ever a people before so 
blessed as we are, if true to ourselves? Did ever any 
other nation contain within its bosom so many elements of 
prosperity, of greatness, and of glory ? Our only real dan- 
ger lies ahead, conspicuous, elevated, and visible. It was 
clearly discerned at the commencement, and distinctly seen 
throughout our whole career. Shall we wantonly run upon 
it, and destroy all the glorious anticipations of the high 
destiny that awaits U6 ? I beseech the Abolitionists them- 
selves solemnly to pause in their mad and fatal course. 
Amidst the infinite variety of objects of humanity and bene- 
volence which invite the employment of their energies, let 
them select some one more harmless, that does not threaten 
to deluge our country in blood. I call upon that small 
portion of the clergy which has lent itself to these wild and 
ruinous schemes, not to forget the holy nature of the divine 
mission of the founder of our religion, and to profit by his 
peaceful examples. I intreat that portion of my country- 
women who have given their countenance to abolition, 
to remember that they are ever most loved and ho- 
nored when moving in their own appropriate and delight- 
ful sphere, and to reflect that the ink which they shed in 
subscribing with their fair hands Abolition petitions, may 


prove but the prelude to the shedding of the blood of their 
brethren. I adjure all the inhabitants of the free States to 
rebuke and discountenance, by their opinion and their ex- 
ample, measures which must inevitably lead to the most 
calamitous consequences. And let us all, as countrymen, 
as frieuds, and as brothers, cherish iu unfading memory the 
motto which bore our ancestors triumphantly through all 
the trials of the Revolution, as, if adhered to, it will con- 
duct their posterity through all that may, iu the dispensa- 
tions of Frovideuce, be reserved for them. 



In 1847, Mr. Calhoun introduced the following Resolu- 
tion in the Senate : 

"Resolved, That it is a fundamental principle in our 
political creed that a people, in framing a Constitution, 
have the unconditional right to form and adopt the govern- 
ment which they may think best calculated to secure their 
liberty, prosperity, and happiness ; and that, in conformity 
thereto, no other condition is imposed by the federal Con- 
stitution on a State, in order to be admitted into this Union, 
except that its Constitution shall be republican ; and that 
the imposition of any other by Congress would not only be 
in violation of the Constitution, but in direct conflict with 
the principle on which our political system rests." 

Upon this resolution Mr. Calhoun offered some highly 
striking remarks, 

"Mr. President: Not only is that proposition grossly in- 
consistent with the Constitution, but the other, which under- 
takes to say that no State shall be admitted into this Union 
which shall not prohibit by its Constitution the existence of 
slaves, is equally a great outrage against the Constitution 
of the United States. Sir, I bold it to be a fundamental 
principle of our political system that the people have a right 
to establish what government they may think proper for 
themselves; that every State about to become a member of 
this Union has a right to form its own government as it 
pleases ; and that, in order to be admitted, there is but one 
qualification, and that is, that the government shall be re- 


850 THE AGITATION IN 1847—50. 

publican. There ifl no express provision to that effect, but 
it results from that important section which guarantees to 
every State in this Union a republican form of government. 
Now, sir, what is proposed ? It is proposed, from a vague, 
indefinite, erroneous, and most dangerous conception of 
private individual liberty, to overrule this great common 
liberty which the people have of framing their own Consti 
tution ! Sir, the right of self-government on the part of 
individuals is not near so easily to be established by any 
course of reasoning as the right of a community or State to 
self-government And yet, sir, there are men of such deli- 
cate feeling on the subject of liberty — men who cannot pos- 
sibly bear what they call slavery in one section of the country, 
although not so much slavery as an institution indispensable 
for the good of both races — men so squeamish on this point, 
that they are ready to strike down the higher right of a 
community to govern themselves, in order to maintain the 
absolute right of individuals in every possible condition to 
govern themselves !" 

In 1848 Mr. Calhoun said : 

"There is a very striking difference between the position 
in which the slaveholding and non-slaveholding States stand 
in reference to the subject under consideration. The former 
desire no action of the Government ; demand no law to 
give them any advantage in the Territory about to be 
established ; are walling to leave it, and other Territories 
belonging to the United States, open to all their citizens, so 
long as they continue to be Territories, and when they cease 
to be so, to leave it to their inhabitants to form such govern- 
ments as may suit them, without restriction or condition, 
except that imposed by the Constitution, as a prerequisite for 
admission into the Union. In short, they are willing to 
leave the whole subject where the Constitution and the 
great and fundamental principles of self-government place 

THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 351 

it. On the contrary, the non-slaveholding States, instead 
of being willing to leave it on this broad and equal founda- 
tion, demand the interposition of the Government, and the 
passage of an act to exclude the citizens of the slaveholding 
States from emigrating with their property into the Terri- 
tory, in order to give their citizens, and those they may 
permit, the exclusive right of settling it, while it remains in 
that condition, preparatory to subjecting it to like restric- 
tions and conditions when it becomes a State." 

"But I go further, and hold that justice and the Consti- 
tution are the easiest and the safest guard on which the 
question can be settled, regarded in reference to party. It 
may be settled on that ground simply by non-action — by 
leaving the Territories free and open to the emigration of 
all the world so long as they continue so ; and when they 
become States to adopt whatever Constitution they please, 
with the single restriction, to be republican, in order to 
their admission into the Union. If a party cannot safely 
take this broad and solid position, and successfully maintain 
it, what other can it take and maintain ? If it cannot 
maintain itself by an appeal to the great principles of justice, 
the Constitution, and self-government, to what other, suffi- 
ciently strong to uphold them in public opinion, can they 
appeal ? I greatly mistake the character of the people of 
this Union, if such an appeal would not prove successful, if 
either party should have the magnanimity to step forward 
and boldly make it. It would, in my opinion, be received 
with shouts of approbation by the patriotic and intelligent in 
every quarter. There is a deep feeling pervading the 
country that the Union and our political institutions are in 
danger, which such a course would dispel." 

January 12, 1848. In the Senate of the United States, 

352 THE AGITATION IX 1847 — 50. 

the following resolutions, submitted by Mr. Dickinson on 
the 14th ultimo, came up : 

"Resolved, That true policy requires the government of 
the United States to strengthen its political and commercial 
relations upon this continent, by the annexation of such 
contiguous territory as may conduce to that end, and can 
be justly obtained ; and that neither in such acquisition nor 
in the territorial organization thereof can any conditions 
be constitutionally imposed, or institutions be provided for 
or established, inconsistent with the right of the people 
thereof to form a free sovereign State, with the powers and 
privileges of the original members of the confederacy. 

"Resolved, That, in organizing a territorial government 
for territories belonging to the United States, the principles 
of self-government upon which our federative system rests 
will be best promoted, the true spirit and meaning of the 
Constitution be observed, and the confederacy strengthened, 
by leaving all questions concerning the domestic policy 
therein to the legislatures chosen by the people thereof." 

Mr. Dickinson said : — The second resolution declares 
that the principle of self-government upon which the federa- 
tive system rests will be best promoted, the true spirit and 
meaning of the Constitution be observed, and the con- 
federacy strengthened, by leaving all questions concerning 
the domestic regulation of territory to the legislatures 
chosen by the people thereof. 

It must be conceded by all, that Congress has no inherent 
power over this subject, and no more right to legislate 
concerning it than the British Parliament, unless such 
authority is delegated by the Constitution. The only clause 
of the Constitution which is supposed to confer upon Con- 
gress the right to legislate for the people of a territory, is 
as follows : 

" The Congress shall have power to dispose of, and make 

THE AGITATION IN 1847—50. 353 

all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or 
other property belonging to the United States," &c. 

In providing legislation for the District of Columbia, 
and for places occupied by the government of the United 
States for fortifications and other erections required by the 
public service, the Constitution thus confers the power 
upon Congress : 

" To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatever, 
in such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by 
the cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Con- 
gress, become the seat of the government of the United 
States, and to exercise like authority over all places pur- 
chased, by the consent of the legislature of the State in 
which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, 
arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings." 

By the clause of the Constitution first above cited, it is 
evident that territory is mentioned in its material, and not 
in its political sense, for it is classed with "other property," 
and Congress is authorized to dispose of and make all 
needful rules and regulations respecting both. In the other 
section they are separated, and Congress is authorized to 
legislate over all places occupied for public structures, but 
no such authority is extended to territory. The language 
of the Constitution is that of great precision — free from 
repetition — and every word was well weighed in its positive 
and relative sense. And if its framers had supposed the 
phrase " needful rules and regulations" authorized legisla- 
tion over places belonging to the United States, and used 
for public service, they would scarcely have authorized 
legislation over such places in express language in another 
section. Again, in providing legislation for the District of 
Columbia, Congress is authorized to " exercise exclusive 
legislation" over it. Now, if the words " needful rules and 
regulations" were deemed proper and apt language to con- 
fer legislative authority over the internal affairs of a terri- 

354 THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 

tory, why were they not employed to authorize legislation 
over the District ? And to reverse the order of the inquiry, 
if it was intended to confer upon Congress the power to 
legislate over territory, why was it not given in the same 
express terms as in authorizing legislation for the District ? 
From this view, there is little doubt that a strict construc- 
tion would deny to Congress the right to legislate for the 
domestic affairs of the people of territory without their 

Congress has, however, upon various occasions, exercised 
legislative power over the subject, especially in incorporating 
into the law organizing territories the provisions of the 
Ordinance of 1781; and this has been acquiesced in by the 
people of the territory. This Ordinance was framed under 
the old confederacy, for the government of the North- 
western Territory, and the sixth article forbade slavery or 
involuntary servitude therein. Its validity has often been 
questioned, and its adoption was pronounced by Mr. Madi- 
son to be "without the least color of constitutional law." 
But whether authorized or not, having been passed before 
the adoption of the Constitution, the act has no authority 
as a precedent for like practice under it. 

Extract from the speech of Henry Clay, in the United 
States Senate, February 5th and 6th, 1850. 

Mr. Clay said : When I came to consider the subject, 
and to compare the provisions of the line of 36° 30' — the 
Missouri compromise line — with the plan which I have pro- 
posed for the accommodation of this question, said I to my- 
self, if I offer the line of 36° 30', to interdict the question 
of slavery north of it, and to leave it unsettled and open 
south of it, I offer that which is illusory to the South — I 
offer that which will deceive them, if they suppose that 
slavery will be received south of that line. It is better for 
them — I said to myself — it is better for the South, that there 

THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 355 

should be non-action as to slavery both north and south of 
the line — far better that there should be non-action both 
sides of the line, than that there should be action by the in- 
terdiction on the one side, without action for the admission 
upon the other side of the line. Is it not so ? What is 
there gained by the South, if the Missouri line is extended 
to the Pacific, with the interdiction of slavery north of it ? 
Why, the very argument which has been most often and 
most seriously urged by the South has been this : we do not 
want Congress to legislate upon the subject of slavery at all ; 
you ought not to touch it. You have no power over it. I 
do not concur, as is well known from what I have said upon 
that question, in this view of the subject ; but that is the 
Southern argument. We do not want you, say they, to 
legislate upon the subject of slavery. But if you adopt the 
Missouri line, and thus interdict slavery north of that line, 
you do legislate upon the subject of slavery, and you legis- 
late for its restriction without a corresponding equivalent 
of legislation south of that line for its admission ; for I in- 
sist that if there be legislation interdicting slavery north of 
the line, then the principles of equality would require that 
there should be legislation admitting slavery south of the 

I have said that I never could vote for it myself, and I 
repeat that I never can, and never will vote, and no earthly 
power will ever make me vote, to spread slavery over terri- 
tory where it does not exist. Still, if there be a majority 
who are for interdicting slavery north of the line, there 
ought to be a majority, if justice is done to the South, to 
admit slavery south of the line. And if there be a majority 
to accomplish both of these purposes, although I cannot 
concur in their action, yet I shall be one of the last to create 
any disturbance ; I shall be one of the first to acquiesce in 
that legislation, although it is contrary to my own judgment 
and to my own conscience. 

356 THE AGITATION IN 1F47 — 50. 

I hope, then, to keep the whole of these matters untouehed 
by any legislation of Congress upon the subject of slavery, 
leaving it open and undecided. Non-action by Congress is 
best fur the South, and best for ail the views which the South 
have disclosed to us from time to time as corresponding to 
their wishes. I know it has been said with regard to the 
territories, and especially has it been said with regard to 
California, that non-legislation upon the part of Congress 
implies the same thing as the exclusion of slavery. That 
we cannot help. That Congress is not responsible for. If 
nature has pronounced the doom of slavery in these territo- 
ries — if she has declared, by her immutable laws, that slavery 
cannot and shall not be introduced there — who can you re- 
proach but nature and nature's God ? Congress you cannot. 
Congress abstains. Congress is passive. Congress is non- 
acting, south and north of the line ; or rather if Congress 
agrees to the plan which I propose, extending no line, it 
leaves the entire theatre of the whole cession of these terri- 
tories untouched by legislative enactments, either to exclude 
or admit slavery. Well, I ask again, if you will listen to 
the voice of calm and dispassionate reason — I ask of any 
man of the South, to rise and tell me if it is not better for 
that section of the Union, that Congress should remain 
passive upon both sides of the ideal line, rather than that 
we should interdict slavery upon the one side of that line 
and be passive upon the other side of that line ? 

Extract from Daniel Webster's speech in the United 
States Senate, March 7th, 1850. 

Now, as to California and New Mexico, I hold slavery 
to be excluded from those territories by a law even superior 
to that which admits and sanctions it in Texas — I mean the law 
of nature, of physical geography — the law of the formation of 
the earth. That law settles forever, with a strength beyond 
all terms of human enactment, that slavery cannot exist in 

THE AGITATION IN 1847—50. 357 

California or New Mexico. Understand me, sir, — I mean 

slavery as we regard it ; slaves in gross, of the colored 

race, transferable by sale and delivery, like other property. 

I look upon it, therefore, as a fixed fact, to use an ex- 
pression current at this day, that both California and New 
Mexico are destined to be free, so far as they are settled at 
all, which I believe, especially in regard to New Mexico, 
will be very little for a great length of time — free by the 
arrangement of things by the Power above us. I have 
therefore to say, in this respect also, that this country is 
fixed for freedom, to as many persons as shall ever live 
there, by as irrepealable, and a more irrepealable law, than 
the law that attaches to the right of holding slaves in Texas ; 
and I will say further, that if a resolution, or a law, were 
now before us, to provide a territorial government for New 
Mexico, I would not vote to put any prohibition into it 
whatever. The use of such a prohibition would be idle, as 
it respects any effect it would have upon the territory ; and 
I would not take pains to reaffirm an ordinance of nature, 
nor to re-enact the will of God. And I would put in no 
Wilmot proviso, for the purpose of a taunt or a reproach. I 
would put into it no evidence of the votes of superior 
power, to wound the pride, even whether a just pride, a 
rational pride, or an irrational pride — to wound the pride 
of the gentlemen who belong to the Southern States. I 
have no such object, no such purpose. They would think 
it a taunt, an indignity. They would think it to be an act 
taking away from them what they regard a proper equality 
of privilege ; and whether they expect to realize any benefit 
from it or not, they would think it a theoretic wrong — that 
something more or less derogatory to their character and 
their rights had taken place. I propose to inflict no such 
wound upon anybody, unless something essentially import- 
ant to the country, and efficient to the preservation of liberty 

358 THE AGITATION IN 1847—50. 

and freedom, is to be effected. Therefore I repeat, sir — 
and I repeat it because I wish it to be understood — that I 
do not propose to address the Senate often* on this subject. 
I desire to pour out all my heart in as plain a manner as 
possible ; and I say again, that if a proposition were now 
here for a government for New Mexico, and it was moved 
to insert a provision for a prohibition of slavery, I would 
not vote for it. 

Now, Mr. President, I have established, so- far as I pro- 
posed to go into any line of observation to establish, the 
proposition with which I set out, and upon which I propose 
to stand or fall, and that is, that the whole territory of the 
States in the United States, or in the newly-acquired terri- 
tory of the United States, has a fixed and settled character, 
now fixed and settled by law, which can not be repealed in 
the case of Texas without a violation of public faith, and 
can not be repealed by any human power in regard to Cali- 
fornia or New Mexico ; that, under one or other of these 
laws, every foot of territory in the States, or in the Terri- 
tories, has now received a fixed and decided character. 

Sir, if we were now making a government for New Mex- 
ico, and anybody should propose a Wilraot proviso, I should 
treat it exactly as Mr. Polk treated that provision for ex- 
cluding slavery from Oregon. Mr. Polk was kuown to be 
in opinion decidedly averse to the Wilmot proviso ; but he 
felt the necessity of establishing a government for the Terri- 
tory of Oregon, and, though the proviso was there, he knew 
it would be entirely nugatory ; and, since it must be entirely 
nugatory, since it took away no right, no describable, no 
estimable, no weighable, or tangible right of the South, he 
said he would sign the bill for the sake of enacting a law to 
form a government in that Territory, and let that entirely 
useless, and, in that connection, entirely senseless, proviso 
remain. For myself, I will say that we hear much of the 
annexation of Canada ; and if there be any man, any of the 

THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 359 

northern democracy, or any one of the free-soil party, who 
supposes it necessary to insert a Wilmot proviso in a terri- 
torial government for New Mexico, that man will of course 
be of opinion that it is necessary to protect the everlasting 
snows of Canada from the foot of slavery, by the same over- 
powering wing of an act of Congress. 

Then, sir, there are those abolition societies, of which I 
am unwilling to speak, but in regard to which I have very 
clear notions and opinions. I do not think them useful. 
I think their operations for the last twenty years have pro- 
duced nothing good or valuable. At the same time, I know 
thousands of them are honest and good men ; perfectly 
well-meaning men. They have excited feelings; they think 
they must do something for the cause of liberty ; and in 
their sphere of action, they do not see what else they can 
do, than to contribute to an abolition press, or an abolition 
society, or to pay an abolition lecturer. I do not mean to 
impute gross motives even to the leaders of these societies, 
but I am not blind to the consequences. I cannot but see 
what mischiefs their interference with the South has pro- 
duced. And is it not plain to every man ? Let any gen- 
tleman who doubts of that, recur to the debates in the Vir- 
ginia House of Delegates in 1832, and he will see with 
what freedom a proposition, made by Mr. Randolph, for 
the gradual abolition of slavery was discussed in that body. 
Every one spoke of slavery as he thought ; very ignomi- 
nious and disparaging names and epithets were applied to 
it. The debates in the House of Delegates on that occa- 
sion, I believe, were all published. They were read by 
every colored man who could read, and if there were any 
who could not read, those debates were read to them by 
others. At that time Virginia was not unwilling nor afraid 
to discuss this question, and to let that part of her popula- 
tion know as much of it as they could learn. That was in 
1832. As has been said by the honorable member from 

360 THE AGITATION IN 1847—50. 

Carolina, these abolition societies commenced their course 
of action in 1835. It is said — I do not know how true it 
may be — that they sent incendiary publications into the 
slave States; at any event, they attempted to arouse, and 
did arouse, a very strong feeling ; in other words, they 
created great agitation in the North against Southern 
slavery. Well, what was -the result? The bonds of the 
slaves were bound more firmly than before ; their rivets 
were more strongly fastened. Public opinion, which in 
Virginia had begun to be exhibited against slavery, and 
was opening out for the discussion of the question, drew 
back and shut itself up in its castle. I wish to know 
whether any body in Virginia can, now, talk as Mr. Ran- 
dolph, Gov. McDowell, and others talked there, openly, 
and sent their remarks to the press, in 1832. We all 
know the fact, and we all know the cause, and everything 
that this agitating people have done, has been, not to en- 
large, but to restrain, not to set free, but to bind faster, the 
slave population of the South. That is my judgment. 
Sir, as I have said, I know many abolitionists in my own 
neighborhood, very honest, good people, misled, as I think, 
by strange enthusiasm ; but they wish to do something, and 
they are called on to contribute, and they do contribute ; 
and it is my firm opinion this day, that within the last 
twenty years, as much money has been collected and paid 
to the abolition societies, abolition presses, and aboli- 
tion lecturers, as would purchase the freedom of every 
slave — man, woman, and child — in the State of Maryland, 
and send them all to Liberia. I have no doubt, of it. But 
I have yet to learn that the benevolence of these abolition 
societies has at any time taken that particular turn. 

Extract from Hon. John C. Calhoun's speech in the 
Senate, June 21th, 1848. 
But there is one precedent referred to by the Senator 

THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 361 

unconnected with the power, and on that account requires 
particular notice. I refer to the ordinance of 1787, which 
was adopted by the old Congress of the Confederation while 
the Convention that framed the Constitution was in session, 
and about one year before its adoption, and of course on 
the very eve of the expiration of the old Confederation. 
Against its introduction, I might object that the act of 
the Congress of the Confederation cannot rightfully form 
precedents for this government ; but I waive that. I 
waive also the objection that the act was consummated 
when that government was in extremis, and could hardly 
be considered compos mentis. I waive also the fact that 
the ordinance assumed the form of a compact, and was 
adopted when only eight States were present, when the 
Articles of Confederation required nine to form compacts. 
I waive also the fact, that Mr. Madison declared that the 
act was without shadow of constitutional authority, and shall 
proceed to show, from the history of its adoption, that it 
cannot justly be considered of any binding force. 

Virginia made the cession of the Territory north of the 
Ohio, and lying between it and the Mississippi and the lakes, 
in 1784. It now contains the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illi- 
nois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and a very considerable extent 
of territory lyiug North of the latter. Shortly after the 
cession, a committee of three was raised, of whom Mr. Jeffer- 
son was one. They reported an ordinance for the establish- 
ment of the Territory, containing, among other provisions, 
one, of which Mr. Jefferson was the author, excluding 
slavery from the Territory after the year 1800. It was re- 
ported to Congress, but this provision was struck out. On 
the question of striking out, every Southern State present 
voted in favor of it ; and what is more striking, every 
Southern delegate voted the same way, Mr. Jefferson alone 
excepted. The ordinance was adopted without the pro- 
vision. At the next session, Rufus King, then a member 

362 iSfl AGITATION IX lb47— 50. 

of the old Congress, moved a proposition, very much in the 
same shape as the sixth article (that which excludes slavery) 
in the ordinance as it now stands, with the exception of its 
proviso. It was referred to a committee, but there was no 
action on it. A committee was moved the next or the 
subsequent year, which reported without including or no- 
ticing Mr. King's proposition. Mr. Dane was a member 
of that committee, and proposed a provision the same as 
that in the ordinance as it passed, but the committee re- 
ported without including it. Finally, another committee 
was raised, at the head of which was Mr. (Harrington, of 
Yirginia, and of whii-li Mr. Dane was also * member. That 
committee reported without including the amendment pre- 
viously proposed by him. Mr. Dane moved his proposition, 
which was adopted, and the report of the committee thus 
amended became the Ordinance of 1787. 

It may be inferred from this brief historical sketch, that 
the ordinance was a compromise between the Southern and 
Northern States, of which the terms were, that slavery 
should be excluded from Territory upon condition that fugi- 
tive slaves, who might take refuge in the Territory should 
be delivered up to their owners, as stipulated in the proviso 
of the 6th article of the Ordinance. It is manifest, from 
w 7 hat has been stated, that the South was unitedly and 
obstinately opposed to the provision when first moved ; that 
the proposition of Mr. King, without the proviso, w T as in 
like manner resisted by the South, as may be inferred from 
its entire want of success, and that it never could be brought 
to agree to it until the provision for the delivery up of 
fugitive slaves was incorporated in it. But it is well under- 
stood that a compromise involves not a surrender, but 
simply a waiver of the right or power ; and hence, in the 
case of individuals, it is a w r ell established legal principle, 
that an offer to settle by compromise a litigated claim, is 
no evidence "against the justice of the claim on the side of 

THE AGITATION IN" 1847 — 50. 363 

the party making it. The South, to her honor, has ob- 
served with fidelity her engagements under this compro- 
mise ; in proof of which, I appeal to the precedents cited 
by the Senator from New York, intended by him to estab- 
lish the fact of her acquiescence in the Ordinance. I admit 
that she has acquiesced in the several acts of Congress to 
carry it into effect; but the Senator is mistaken in sup- 
posing that it is proof of a surrender, on her part, of the 
power over the territories which he claims for Congress. 
No, she never has, and I trust never will, make such a sur- 
render. Instead of that, it is conclusive proof of her 
fidelity to her engagements. She has never attempted to 
set aside the ordinance, or to deprive the territory, and the 
States erected within its limits, of any right or advantage 
it was intended to confer. But I regret that as much can- 
not be said in favor of the fidelity with which it has been 
observed on their part. With the single exception of the 
State of Illinois — be it said to her honor — every other 
State erected within its limits has pursued a course, and 
adopted measures, which have rendered the stipulations of 
the proviso to deliver up fugitive slaves nugatory. Wis- 
consin may also be an exception, as she has just entered 
the Union, and has hardly had time to act on the subject. 
They have gone further, and suffered individuals to form 
combinations, without an effort to suppress them, for the 
purpose of enticing and seducing the slaves to leave their 
masters, and to run them into Canada beyond the reach of 
our laws — in open violation, not only of the stipulations of 
the ordinance, but of the Constitution itself. If I express 
myself strongly, it is not for the purpose of producing 
excitement, but to draw the attention of the Senate forcibly 
to the subject. My object is to lay bare the subject under 
consideration, just as a surgeon probes to the bottom and 
lays open a wound, not to cause pain to his patient, but for 
the purpose of healing it. 
* * * * * * * 

364 THE AGITATION IN 1347 — 50. 

I come now to another precedent of a similar character, 
but differing in this, that it took place under this govern- 
ment, and not under that of the old confederation ; I refer 
to what is known as the Missouri compromise. It is more 
recent, and better known, and may be more readily des- 

After an arduous struggle of more than a year, on the 
question whether Missouri should come into the Union, 
with or without restrictions prohibiting slavery, a compro- 
mise line was adopted between the North and the South; 
but it was done under circumstances which made it nowise 
obligatory upon the latter. It is true, it was moved by one 
of her distinguished citizens. [Mr. Clay,] but it is equally 
so, that it was carried by the almost united vote of the 
North against the almost united vote of the South ; and 
was thus imposed on the latter by superior numbers, in 
opposition to her strenuous efforts. The South has never 
given her sanction to it, or assented to the power it asserted. 
She was voted down, and has simply acquiesced in an 
arrangement which she has not had the power to reverse, 
and which she could not attempt to do without disturbing 
the peace and harmony of the Union — to which she has 
ever been averse. Acting on this principle, she permitted 
the Territory of Iowa to be formed, and the State to be 
admitted into the Union, under the compromise, without 
objection ; and that is now quoted by the Senator from 
New York to prove her surrender of the power he claims 
for Congress. 

To add to the strength of this claim, the advocates of 
the power hold up the name of Jefferson in its favor, and 
go so far as to call him the author of the so-called Wilmot 
proviso, which is but a general expression of a power of 
which the Missouri compromise is a case of its application. 
If we may judge by his opinion of that case, what his 
opinion was of the principle, instead of being the author of 

THE AGITATION" IN 1847 — 50. 365 

the proviso, or being in its favor, no one could be more 
deadly hostile to it. In a letter addressed to the elder 
Adams, in 1819, in answer to one from him, he uses these 
remarkable expressions in reference to the Missouri question : 

"The banks, bankrupt law, manufactures, Spanish treaty, 
are nothing. These are occurrences which, like waves in a 
storm, will pass under the ship. But the Missouri question 
is a breaker on which we lose the Missouri country by 
revolt, and what more, God only knows." 

To understand the full force of these expressions, it must 
be borne in mind, that the questions enumerated were the 
great and exciting political questions of the day on which 
parties divided. The banks and bankrupt law had long 
been so. Manufactures (or what has since been called the 
protective tariff) was at the time a subject of great excite- 
ment, as was the Spanish treaty; that is, the treaty by 
which Florida was ceded to the Union, and by which the 
western boundary between Mexico and the United States 
was settled, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. 
All these exciting party questions of the day, Mr. Jefferson 
regarded as nothing compared with the Missouri question. 
He looked on all of them as, in their nature, fugitive ; and, 
to use his own forcible expression, " would pass off under 
the ship of state like waves in a storm." Not so that fatal 
question. It was a breaker on which it was destined to be 
stranded ; and yet, his name is quoted by the incendiaries 
of the present day in support of, and as the author of, a 
proviso which would give indefinite and universal extension 
of this fatal question to all the territories. It was compro- 
mised the next year by the adoption of the line to which I 
have referred. Mr. Holmes, of Maine, long a member of 
this body, who voted for the measure, addressed a letter to 
Mr. Jefferson, euclosing a copy of his speech on the occa- 
sion. It drew out an answer from him which ought to be 
treasured up in the heart of every man who loves the coun- 

366 TIIE AGITATION" IS 1847 -50. 

try and its institutions. It is brief : I will send it to the 
Secretary to be read. The time of the Senate cannot be 
better occupied than in listening to it : 

" Munticello, April 22, 1820. 
" I thank you, dear sir, for the co\>y jou have been so 
kind as to send me of the letter to your constituents on tho 
Missouri question. It is a perfect justification to them. I 
had for a long time ceased to read newspapers, or pay any 
attention to public affairs, confident they were in good 
hands, and content to be a passenger in our bark to the 
shore from which I am not distant. Bat this momentous 
question, like a lire-bull In the night, awakened and filled 
me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the 
Union. It is hushed, indeed, for the moment; but this is 
a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical line, 
coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, 
once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, 
will never be obliterated; and every new irritation will 
mark it deeper and deeper. I can say, with conscious truth, 
that there is not a mau on earth who would sacrifice more 
than I would to relieve us from this heavy reproach, in any 
practicable way. The cession of that kind of property 
(for so it is misnamed) is a bagatelle, which would not cost 
me a second thought, if, in that way, a general emancipa- 
tion and expatriation could be effected ; and gradually, and 
with due sacrifices, I think it might be. But as it is, we 
have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him, nor 
safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preserva- 
tion in the other. Of one thing I am certain, that as the 
free passage of slaves from one State to another would not 
make a slave of a single human being who would not be so 
without it, so their diffusion over a greater surface would 
make them individually happier, and proportionally facili- 
tate the accomplishment of their emancipation, by dividing 
the burden on a greater number of coadjutors. An absti 

THE AGITATION IN 1847—50. 367 

nence, too, from this act of power, would remove the 
jealousy excited by the undertaking of Congress to regu- 
late the condition of the different descriptions of men com- 
posing a State. This certainly is the exclusive right of 
every State, which nothing in the Constitution has taken 
from them, and given to the general government. Could 
Congress, for example, say that the non-freemen of Con- 
necticut shall be freemen, or that they shall not emigrate 
into any other State ? 

"I regret that I am now to die in the belief, that the use- 
less sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776, to 
acquire self-government and happiness to their country, is 
to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of 
their sons, and that my only consolation is to be, that I live 
not, to weep over it. If they would but dispassionately 
weigh the blessings they will throw away, against an abstract 
principle, more likely to be effected by union than by seces- 
sion, they would pause before they would perpetrate this act 
of suicide on themselves, and of treason against the hopes 
of the world. To yourself as the faithful advocate of the 
Union, I tender the offering of my high esteem and re- 

" John Holmes, Esq." 


Mark his prophetic words ! Mark his profound reason- 

"It [the question] is hushed for the moment. But this 
is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical 
line coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, 
once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, 
will never be obliterated, and every new irritation will 
mark it deeper and deeper." 

Twenty-eight years have passed since these remarkable 
words were penned, and there is not a thought which time 
bas not thus far verified, and it is to be feared will continue 

368 THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 

to verify until the whole will be fulfilled. Curtain it is, 
that he regarded the compromise line us utterly inadequate 
to arrest that fatal course of events which his keen sagacity 
anticipated from the question. It was but a "reprieve." 
Mark the deeply melancholy impression which it made on 
his mind : 

"I regret that I am to die in the belief that the useless 
sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 177G, to acquire 
self-government and happiness for themselves, is to be thrown 
away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, 
and that my only consolation is to be, that I shall live not 
to weep over it." 

Can any one believe, after listening to this letter, that 
Jefferson is the author of the so-called Wilmot proviso, or 
ever favored it ? And yet there are at this time strenuous 
efforts making in the North to form ■ purely sectional party 
on it, and that, too, under the sanction of those who profess 
the highest veneration for his character and principles ! 

I have now concluded the discussion, so far as it relates 
to the power ; and have, I trust, established, beyond con- 
troversy, that the Territories are free, and open to all of 
the citizens of the United States, and that there is no power, 
under any aspect the subject can be viewed in, by which 
the citizens of the South can be excluded from emigrating 
with their property into any of them. I have advanced no 
argument which I do not believe to be true, nor pushed any 
one beyond what truth would strictly warrant. But, if 
mistaken, if my arguments, instead of being sound and true, 
as I hold them beyond controversy to be, should turn out 
to be a mere mass of sophisms ; and if, in consequence, the 
barrier opposed by the want of power, should be sur- 
mounted, there is another still in the way that cannot be. 
The mere possession of power, is not, of itself, sufficient to 
justify its exercise. It must be, in addition, shown, that in 

THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 369 

the given case it can be rightfully and justly exercised. 
Under our system, the first inquiry is, Does the Constitution 
authorize the exercise of the power ? If that be decided 
in the affirmative, the next is, Can it be rightfully and 
justly exercised under the circumstances ? And it is not 
until that, too, is decided in the affirmative, that the ques- 
tion of the expediency of exercising it is presented for con- 

Now, I put the question solemnly to the Senators from 
the North : Can you rightly and justly exclude the South 
from the territories of the United States, and monopolize 
them for yourselves, even if, in your opinion, you should 
have the power ? It is this question I wish to press on 
your attention, with all due solemnity and decorum. The 
North and the South stand in the relation of partners in a 
common Union, with equal dignity and equal rights. "We 
of the South have contributed our full share of funds, and 
Bhed our full share of blood, for the acquisition of our ter- 
ritories. Can you, then, on any principle of equity and 
justice, deprive us of our full share in their benefit and ad- 
vantages ? Are you ready to affirm, that a majority of the 
partners in a joint concern have the right to monopolize 
its benefits, to the exclusion of the minority, even in cases 
where they have contributed their full share to the concern ? 



In the Senate, 1850, Mr. Cass said : We are all aware 
that there are various clauses of the Constitution, and vari- 
ous other sources, foreign and domestic, whence this right 
of unlimited legislation over the territories is sought to be 
deduced. One of these, at least, is an express constitutional 
grant of power, and if it fairly includes the authority to 
bind the territories in all cases whatsoever, then there is 
an end of this question, and we may pass this proviso, and 

370 THIO AGITATION IN 1847—50. 

regulate all their other concerns at onr pleasure. But there 
are other sources, accepted or rejected, as minds differently 

constituted take part in this controversy, whence this right 
is derived indirectly, as neoe ooa rj to the exercise of some 
power found in the Constitution, or of some other power 
found out of the Constitution. It will hardly be denied — 
the time for denial has not yet come, though appearances 
indicate it as fast approaching — that these indirect or inci- 
dental powers are to be employed no further than is neces- 
sary to meet the occasion which calls them into action. 
Derivative in their nature, they are limited in their exercise. 
Theycaunot go beyond the legitimate object which is sought 
to be attained. If the necessity for social order in the Ter- 
ritories, as many, perhaps as most of the speakers contend, 
is the true foundation of the right of Congress to legislate 
over them, it is a right which extends no further than may 
be necessary and proper to fulfill this first duty of society. 
The means must be proper for the end, and proportioned 
to it ; and if this end can be obtained by the establishment 
of local governments, there ceases the constitutional action 
of Congress, and the internal legislation should be com- 
mitted to the people to be affected by it. It is essential, 
therefore, to ascertain whence this power comes, that we 
may ascertain how far it may go ; essential, that we may not 
violate the Constitution ; essential, that we may not violate 
a fundamental principle of freedom, the unalienable connec- 
tion between representation and internal legislation ; and 
essential, that the people of the Territories may conduct 
their own concerns in their own way — the very cardinal 
doctrine of American freedom. 


There is no clause in the Constitution which gives to 
Congress express power to pass any law respecting slavery 
in the Territories. The authority is deduced from various 
sources, which I propose to examine by and by. But every 

THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 371 

construction which would give to a foreign legislature juris- 
diction over this subject of slavery — by foreign I mean not 
elected by the people to be affected by its acts, nor respon- 
sible to them — would equally give it jurisdiction over every 
other department of life, social and political, in the territo- 
ries : over the relations of husband and wife, of parent and 
child, of guardian and ward, as well as over the relations 
of master and servant ; and embracing within the sphere of 
its operations the whole circle of human rights, personal 
and political — life, liberty, and property, in all their various 
modes of enjoyment. I say " the power of Congress over 
slavery ;" for, if we have power to abolish it, or to exclude 
it, we have power to institute it. We possess complete ju- 
risdiction over the subject ; for there is no intellect, however 
acute, which can so limit the legislative right of action, if it 
exist at all, as to apply it to the exclusion of slavery, and 
withhold it from its institution. If any one doubts this 
proposition, let him turn to the Constitution and show the 
limitation. Before I can believe that such a power was 
granted, so remote from the objects of the government 
which the framers of the Constitution sought to establish, 
belonging exclusively to the local questions affecting the 
different communities into which we are divided, I must 
abandon many of the illusions I have cherished respecting 
the wisdom of the statesmen who composed the Convention 
of 1187. 

Reverting to the proposition that Congress has unlimited 
power of legislation over the territories, the first reflection 
which strikes the inquirer is, that if this power were intended 
to be granted, nothing was more easy than for the Conven- 
tion to place the subject beyond doubt by a plain expression 
of the object. 

372 THE AGITATION IN 1S47— 50. 

Extracts of Speech of Mr. Houston, of Texas, on Mr. 
Clay's compromise Resolutions, Feb. 8, 1830. 

Mr. Ilouston said, the North contend that they have a 
right to interfere with the subject of slavery, hence the "\Yil- 
mot proviso. The South contend that the North has no 
such right — no right to interfere with the subject of slavery 
anywhere; and hence the principle is contended for that 
Congress does not possess this power as applicable to the 
territories — no power arising from the terms of the union 
between the Nortli and the South — none growing out of 
the Constitution by which they are bound together. Nor 
do I believe that Congress has, under the Constitution, any 
authority to impose upon States asking for admission into the 
Union any condition whatever, other than that of having a 
republican form of government In this view I am sustained 
by high authority — no less than that of a statesman of long 
experience and distinguished reputation ; I allude to the 
senator from South Carolina, who is now absent from his 
seat [Mr. Calhoun] ; and in mentioning him, permit me to 
express my sincere regret for the cause which has withheld 
him from the discharge of his duties in this House. No one 
feels more sympathy for his physical sufferings than myself. 
That gentleman, in laying down his principles upon this 
subject in 184?, declared them, in a resolution of that day, 
almost in the terms of the resolution just read. I had not 
the benefit of the light of that resolution when I drew the 
one submitted by me ; but I believe, had I possessed it, I 
could not have been more fortunate in the expression of the 
very view which I entertained. 

I regret that the disposition to interfere with the institu- 
tion of slavery, to inhibit the exercise of their rights to the 
Southern States and people ; rights which all free people 
have to regulate their own domestic institutions — exists at 

THE AGITATION IX lb-17— 50. 373 

all at the North ; that any should wish to interfere with, or 
obstruct, the rights of the people of the territories to adopt 
such form of republican government as they may choose ; 
for they would, subsequently to their admission to the Union 
as States, have the obvious right to modify their constitution 
so as to adopt or prohibit slavery according to their own 
will and pleasure. But I do not charge this disposition 
upon the people of the North, and to do so is, I think, to 
discourage our friends there, and to misinform and mislead 
the South. We ought to draw the line distinctly between 
those who are disposed to support the Constitution by sus- 
taining the rights of the South, and those who are willing 
to carry on a crusade against rights pre-existent to the Con- 
stitution of the Union itself. 

If the power, Mr. President, is not clearly and definitely 
given to the Congress of the United States to legislate upon 
the subject of the territorial governments, it strikes me that 
there is great force in the position, that to assume it would 
be to violate a fundamental principle of our government, 
which is, that the people (by which I understand the people 
of the territories as well as the people of the States) have 
the right of self-government under the Constitution. Con- 
gress has the power to make needful rules and regulations 
for the territories and other property of the United States ; 
but these rules are temporary. They may apportion the 
land, and they have a right to do whatever may be necessary 
in order to dispose of it. They may provide for the bound- 
aries of the territories, in order to give them compactness 
and judicious dimensions, and they have power to authorize 
the formation of territorial governments, to exist no longer 
than until it may be convenient for the people to legislate 
for themselves. Such are the powers necessarily resulting 
from authority delegated by the Constitution to Congress, 
but beyond this, I think, we cannot safely go. 

874 THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 

Extract from the Speech of Mr. R. Toombs, of Georgia, 
in the House of Representatives, February 27th, 18f)G. 
Mr. Toombs said : * * * * 

Those who claim the power in Congress to exclude slavery 
from the territories rely rather on authority than principle 
to support it. They allirin, with singular ignorance of, or 
want of fidelity to, the facts, that Congress has from the 
beginning of the government uniformly claimed and re- 
peatedly exercised the power to discourage slavery and to 
exclude it from the territories. My investigation of the 
subject has satisfied my own mind that neither position is 
sustained by a single precedent. 1 exclude, of course, legis- 
lation prohibiting the African slave trade; and I hold the 
ordinance of 1787 not to be within the principle asserted. 
For the first thirty years of our history this general duty to 
protect this great interest equally with every other, was 
universally admitted and fairly performed by every depart- 
ment of the government. The act of 1793 was passed to 
secure the delivery up of fugitives from labor escaping to 
the non-slaveholding States : your navigation laws autho- 
rized their transportation on the high seas. The govern- 
ment demanded and repeatedly received compensation for 
the owners of slaves for injuries sustained in these lawful 
voyages by the interference of foreign governments. It not 
only protected us upon the high seas, but followed us to 
foreign lands where we had been driven by the dangers of 
the sea, and protected slave property when thus cast even 
within the jurisdiction of hostile municipal laws. The slave 
property of our people was protected against the incursions 
of Indians by our military power and public treaties. The 
citizens of Georgia have received hundreds of thousands of 
dollars through your treaties for Indian depredations upon 
this species of property. That clause of the treaty of Ghent, 
which provided compensation for property destroyed or 
taken by the British government, placed slavery precisely 

THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 375 

upon the same ground with other property ; and a New 
England man [Mr. Adams] ably and faithfully maintained 
the rights of the slaveholder uuder it at the Court of St. 
James. Then the government was administered according 
to the Constitution, and not according to what is now called 
u the spirit of the age. " Those legislators looked for political 
powers and public duties in the organic law which political 
communities had laid down for their guidance and govern- 
ment. Humanity-mongers, atheistical socialists, who would 
upturn the moral, social, and political foundations of society, 
who would substitute the folly of men for the wisdom of 
God, were then justly considered as the enemies of the 
human race, and as deserving the contempt, if not the exe- 
cration, of all mankind. 

Until the year 1820 your territorial legislation was 
marked by the same general spirit of fairness and justice. 
Notwithstanding the constant assertions to the contrary by 
gentlemen from the North, up to that period no act was 
ever passed by Congress maintaining or asserting the pri- 
mary constitutional power to prevent any citizen of the 
United States owning slaves from removing with them to 
our territories, and there receiving legal protection for this 
property. Until that time such persons did so remove into 
all the territories owned or acquired by the United States, 
except the Northwest Territory, and were there adequately 
protected. The action of Congress in reference to the ordi- 
nance of 1Y8T does not contravene this principle. That 
ordinance was passed on the 13th of July, 118*7', before the 
adoption of our present Constitution. It purported on its 
face to be a perpetual compact between the State of Vir- 
ginia, the people of the territory, and the then government 
of the United States, and unalterable, except by the consent 
of all the' parties. When Congress met for the first time 
under the new government, on the 4th of March, IT 89, it 
found the government thus established by virtue of this or- 

376 THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 

dinance in actual operation ; and on the 7th of August, 

1789, it passed a law making the offices of Governor and 
Secretary of the Territory conform to the Constitution of 
the new government. It did nothing more. It made no 
reference to the sixth and last section of the ordinance which 
inhibited slavery. The division of that territory was pro- 
vided for in the ordinance ; at each division, the whole of 
the ordinance was assigned by Congress to each of its parts. 
This is the whole sum and substance of the free-soil claim 
to legislative precedents. Congress did not assert the right 
to alter a solemn compact entered into with the former 
government, but gave its consent by its legislation to the 
governments established and provided for in the compact. 
If the original compact was void for want of power in the 
old government to make it, as Mr. Madison supposed, Con- 
gress may not have been bound to accept it — it certainly 
had no power to alter it. From these facts and principles 
it is clear that the legislation for the Northwest Territory 
does not conflict with the principle which I assert, and does 
not afford precedents for the hostile legislation of Congress 
against slavery in the territories. That such was neither 
the principle nor the policy upon which the act of the 1th 
of August, 1789, was based, is further shown by the subse- 
quent action of the same Congress. On the 2d of April, 

1790, Congress, by a formal act, accepted the cession made 
by North Carolina of her western lands (now the State of 
Tennessee) with this clause in the deed of cession, " That 
no regulations made or to be made by Congress shall tend 
to emancipate slaves" in the ceded territory ; and on the 
26th of May, 1790, passed a territorial bill for the govern- 
ment of all the territory claimed by the United States 
south of the Ohio river. The description of this territory 
included all the lands ceded by North Carolina, but it in- 
cluded a great deal more. Its boundaries were left indefi- 
nite, because there were conflicting claims to all the rest of 

THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 377 

the territory. But this act put the whole country claimed 
by the United States south of the Ohio under this pro- 
slavery clause of the North Carolina deed. The whole 
action of the first Congress in relation to slavery in the ter- 
ritories of the United States seems to have been this ; It 
acquiesced in a government for the Northwest Territory 
based upon a pre-existing anti-slavery ordinance, created a 
government for the country ceded by North Carolina in 
conformity with the pro-slavery clause in her deed, and 
extended this pro-slavery clause to all the rest of the terri- 
tory claimed by the United States south of the Ohio river. 
This legislation vindicates the first Congress from all impu- 
tation of having established the precedent claimed by the 
friends of legislative exclusion. 

The next territorial act which was passed was that of the 
*Tth of April, 1*798. It was the first act of territorial legis- 
lation which had to rest solely upon original, primary, con- 
stitutional power over the subject. It established a govern- 
ment over the territory included within the boundaries of a 
line drawn due east from the mouth of the Yazoo river to 
the Chattahoochee river, then down that river to the thirty- 
first degree of north latitude, then west on that line to the 
Mississippi river, then up the Mississippi to the beginning. 
This territory was within the boundary of the United States 
as defined by the treaty of Paris, and was not within the 
boundary of any of the States. The charter of Georgia 
limited her boundary on the south to the Altamaha river. 
In 1*163, after the surrender of her charter, her limits were 
extended by the Crown to the St. Mary's river, and west 
on the thirty-first degree of north latitude to the Mississippi. 
In 1164, on the recommendation of the Board of Trade, 
her boundary was again altered, and that portion of terri- 
tory within the boundaries which I have described was an- 
nexed to West Florida, and thus it stood at the Revolution 
and the treaty of peace. Therefore the United States 

378 THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 

claimed it as common property, and, in 1798, passed the 
act now under review fur its government. In that act she 
neither claimed nor exerted any power to prohibit slavery 
in it. And the question came directly before OoBgreee, the 
ordinance of 1787 in terms was applied to this territory, 
expressly "excepting and excluding the last article of the 
ordinance," which is the article excluding slavery from the 
Northwest Territory. This ifl a preceded directly in point, 
and is against the exercise of the power now claimed. In 
1802, Georgia ceded her western lands, she protested 
slavery in her grant, and the Government complied with 
her stipulations. 

In 1803 the United States acquired Louisiana from 
France by purchase. There is no special reference to 
slavery in the treaty; it was protected only under the 
general term of property. This acquisition was soon after 
the treaty divided into two Territories — the Orleans and 
the Louisiana Territories — over both of which governments 
were established. The law of slavery obtained in the whole 
country at the time we acquired it. Congress prohibited 
the foreign and domestic slave trade in these Territories, 
but gave the protection of its laws to slave owners emi- 
grating thither with their slaves. Upon the admission of 
Louisiana into the Union, a new government was estab- 
lished by Congress over the rest of the country under the 
name of the Missouri Territory. This act also attempted 
no exclusion ; slaveholders emigrated to the country with 
their slaves, and were protected by their government. In 
1819 Florida was acquired by purchase; its laws recog- 
nized and protected slavery at the time of the acquisition. 
The United States extended the same recognition and 

I have thus briefly reviewed the whole territorial legis- 
lation of Congress from the beginning of the government 
until 1820, and it sustains my proposition, that within that 

THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 379 

period there was no precedent where Congress had exer- 
cised, or attempted to exercise, any primary constitutional 
power to prevent slaveholders from emigrating, with their 
slave property, to any portion of the public lands ; and 
that it had extended the protection of its laws and its arms 
over such persons, in all cases except in the Northwest 
Territory, where it was fettered and restrained by an or- 
ganic law established before the form;,! inn of our present 

Extract from a speech of Hon. Chester Butler, of Penn- 
sylvania, in the House of Representatives, June 8, 1850 : 

Mr. Butler said — Sir, I must be permitted to express my 
dissent from each of these extravagant propositions. I do 
not believe, that, to hold slaves is to be involved in moral 
guilt, in sin. To believe this, would be a surrender of the 
whole question, for no law or constitution should be per- 
mitted to exist, creating or sustaining an unholy institution. 
In my judgment, slavery is not an unmitigated evil, nor is 
it an unalloyed good. Like most of the institutions of 
men, it contains a mixture of the ingredients of good and 
evil. It has its advantages, its comforts, its conveniences 
and its benefits, to both of the parties, who stand to each 
other in the relation of master and servant, as well the 
opposites of these characteristics ; and, like other institu- 
tions of this world, it depends in its practical working for 
good or for evil, not upon any abstract principle of right or 
wrong, freedom or bondage, but upon the character of those 
among whom it exists, and the manner in which the power 
and the duties of the superiors are exercised and discharged. 
Theoretically, slavery may be wrong, as it is an invasion of 
an absolute right of the enslaved. The original abstract 
right of every human being, of every hue and complexion, 
to personal liberty, is, I believe, denied by no one. To 
deprive any human being of his personal liberty, except for 

380 THE AGITATTON IN 181:7—50. 

crime, and by due course of law, and to reduce him to the 
condition of a slave, is a grievous wrong. It by no means 
follows, however, that this admitted right should, under all 
circumstances, be at once vindicated by restoring the slavo 
to freedom ; nor is it (rue that the master, who refuses thus 
to vindicate the right by setting free his bondsman, without 
regard to surrounding circumstances and fitness of things, 
or to obligations resting upon himself to society, and to the 
slave himself, is guilty of a grievous wrong, or a wrong of 
any kind. If there is an unyielding obligation upon one 
master to free his slaves, because of this abstract right, it 
must rest upon all slaveholders alike : no one need be told 
of the disastrous consequences which would follow the prac- 
tical application of this doctrine by immediate emancipa- 
tion in our southern States. Such a course of proceeding 
there, would be unjust and cruel to the slaves themselves ; 
it would destroy slavery by destroying the slaves. To use 
a favorite illustration, it would be like plunging the knife 
to the heart of the patient in attempting to remove a blem- 
ish from the surface. 

Slavery exists, and always has existed, among the differ- 
ent nations of the earth, from the earliest period in the 
history of man, among the uncivilized and barbarous, as 
well as the uncultivated and refined ; and while, with the 
former, the treatment of the slave is oppressive and cruel, 
with the latter his condition is much meliorated and im- 
proved, beiug modified by, and made to partake, in some 
measure, of the civilization, if not the cultivation, of those 
among whom his lot is cast. Compared with the slaves of 
other countries, and, it is said, even with the free peasantry 
of some, the conditiou of our southern slaves is greatly 
superior, in all that constitute the substantial comforts and 
happiness of life. And, sir, if slavery is to exist at all, it 
can be in no better form, at least, no better has ever been 
suggested, than that which prevails in our southern States j 

THE AGITATION IN 1847—50. 381 

nor, in my judgment, is there any people, anywhere, in 
whose character for intelligence, benevolence and humanity, 
the most exacting friend of the negro race can hope to find 
stronger pledges against the abuse of power over those 
who are bound to their service, or surer guarantees that 
their duties and obligations towards them would be faith- 
fully performed, than are found in that of our southern 
fellow-citizens. The relation of master and servant, im- 
poses reciprocal duties and obligations upon the parties — 
service and obedience being due from the servant, care and 
protection from the master. When these mutual duties and 
obligations are faithfully observed, philanthropy has little 

to weep over in contemplating the condition of the servant. 
* # # * * * 

Mr. Chairman, I cannot read the second section of the 
fourth article of the Constitution without coming to the con- 
clusion that it was intended the fugitives from service or 
labor, that is slavery, there spoken of, were to be delivered 
up promptly and summarily, and without the delay of a 
formal trial by jury. This same section provides that fugi- 
tives from justice shall, on demand of the executive autho- 
rity of a State, "be delivered up, to be removed," &c. 
With regard to fugitives from service or labor, the provision 
is, they shall not " be discharged from such service or labor, 
but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom 
such service or labor may be due." In neither case is it 
said by whom or by what authority they shall be delivered 
up. In the case of fugitives from justice, the delivery up 
has always been done by the executive of one State upon 
the demand of the executive of another State ; but in the 
case of fugitives from service, such has not been the prac- 
tice, though the words are almost identical. The delivery 
up is to be done by somebody. Clearly it is not the duty 
of each individual citizen to do it. It must devolve on the 
State authority, or on that of the United States, and it is 

382 THE AGITATION IX 1847 — BO. 

understood that it belongs exclusively to the latter. But 
though a State cannot perform this duty devolved by the 
Constitution somewhere, she lias no right to interpose im- 
proper and embarrassing obstacles in the way of such deli- 
very up of a fugitive by proper authority. If she does so 
she transcends her duty, and is liable to the charge of not 
standing faithfully by the compromises of the Constitution. 

The duty to deliver up is clear, and can only be evaded 
by a breach of the Constitution or by its alteration. As 
long as it remains I am willing to acknowledge the obliga- 
tion, and to vote for any feasible and judicious plan by 
which this duty can be performed, and the constitutional 
obligation be maintained and discharged. I am for the 
Constitution as it stands, as long as it stands, and for the 
Union as our fathers made it, and do not mean, by any act 
of mine, either of commission or omission, to jeopard 
either. My feelings of attachment to the Union are still 
strong, but I must confess to some diminution of their in- 
tensity during the agitation of this slavery question. I 
much fear that if it were the object of gentlemen to produce 
a like effect upon the minds of the people generally, they 
may have accomplished their purpose. Still I would sacri- 
fice much to maintain it, if sacrifice were necessary. I do 
riot, however, perceive any great danger, for the causes 
alleged seem inadequate. Some, however, can snuflf disso- 
lution in every gale, and find evidences of its approach when 
others cannot discover any signs of danger. The distin- 
guished senator from South Carolina, now dead, could see 
it ir. the action of the religious bodies of the country. 
True, sir, there has been something of the kind in one of 
the most numerous denominations in the country. Speak- 
ing of the snapping of their religious cords, Mr. Calhoun 
says, " that of the Presbyterian is not entirely snapped, but 
some of its strands have given away." The correctness of 

THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 383 

this statement with regard to the Presbyterian Church, I must 
be permitted to question. This church has ever been dis- 
tinguished for its devotion to freedom ; both political and 
religious, and it will be one of the last to do anything tend- 
ing towards a subversion of the institutions of the country, 
to the formation of which their ancestors of the same faith 
so largely contributed. I will cite the report and resolu- 
tions of the General Assembly, adopted at Cincinnati, in 
May, 1845, in support of the views I have advanced on 
the moral aspect of slavery, and as evidence of the attach- 
ment this church, north and south, bears to the Union of 
the States. I can only refer to the report : the resolutions 
adopted by a vote of 168 yeas to 13 nays, are as follows, 

11 Resolved, 1st, That the General Assembly of the Pres- 
byterian Church in the United States was originally organ- 
ized, and has since continued the bond of Union in the 
church, upon the conceded principle that the existence of 
domestic slavery, under the circumstances in which it is 
found in the southern portion of the country, is no bar to 
Christian communion. 

" Besolved, 2d, That the petitions that ask the Assembly 
to make the holding of slaves itself a matter of discipline, 
do virtually require this judicatory to dissolve itself, and 
abandon the organization under which, by the Divine bles- 
ing, it has so long prospered. The tendency is evidently to 
separate the northern from the southern portion of the 
Church ; a result which every good citizen must deplore, as 
tending to the dissolution of the Union of our beloved 
country, and which every enlightened Christian will oppose 
as bringing about a ruinous and unnecessary schism between 
brethren who maintain a common faith." 

These patriotic and Christian-like sentiments have never 
been changed or withdrawn at any subsequent period, as I 
am informed by the best authority ; and I am happy to add, 

384 THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 

there is no fear that they ever will be. They are worthy the 
church, and do honor to the heads and hearts of the mem- 
bers of the Assembly by which they were so unanimously 
adopted. There are no elements of political disunion in 
this church ; no snapping of any strands, however delicate, 
forming her religious cords, to draw forth from the patriot 

H Such tears as patriots shed for dying laws.'* 

In the preservation of the Union of these States lie all 
our hopes of happiness as a people — of our peace, prospe- 
rity, and strength, as a nation. What patriotism is to the 
citizens of other countries, unionism should be to us — the 
noblest passion that animates man in the character of a citi- 
zen. Attachment and devotion to the Constitution and to 
the Union is a deeply-seated feeling in the heart of every 
American. It should be cherished and fostered with care, 
as a vital principle, never to be surrendered until every sen- 
timent of civil liberty shall be extinguished forever. 

Extract from the speech of Mr. Thomas Ross, of Penn- 
sylvania, in the House of Representatives, April 10, 1850. 

Mr. Ross said : Congress has no constitutional power 
either to establish or to prohibit slavery in the States or ter- 
ritories. And I will further say, that even if Congress had 
the constitutional power, it would be unwise, inexpedient, 
and highly improper to exercise that power. 

In justice to myself, I will, in a few words, give my rea- 
sons for this opinion. Each State was an independent sove- 
reignty when she entered the confederacy, so far, at least, 
as regarded the objects of property, and the domestic and 
social institutions of her people ; and she surrendered no 
part of that sovereignty by becoming a member of the Union. 
The general government was established for certain specified 
objects, and its powers are limited by the constitutional 

THE AGITATION IN 1847—50. 385 

grant which created it ; but to the States themselves belong 
all powers not expressly delegated, or which, by necessary 
implication, do not arise from some express grant. At the 
time of the adoption of the Constitution, negro slavery, I 
believe, existed in all the States but one, which then formed 
the Union ; and no power was given to the general govern- 
ment to control, regulate, prohibit, or establish slavery. 
That power not being granted, was vested in the States 
themselves. The Constitution, however, recognized slavery 
as one of the institutions of the country, and made provision 
for the protection of slave property. There was no grant, 
therefore, of power of any kind on the subject of slavery 
made by the States to the general government; but there 
was a binding obligation entered into by the free States, or 
by such as might become free, that the. general government 
should protect slave property. It seems to me, therefore, 
that as the States delegated to the general government no 
power of any kind over the question of slavery, Congress, 
which derives all its powers from the Constitution, possesses 
no authority either to establish or prohibit slavery in the 
States or territories. In regard to the territories, Mr. Chair- 
man, the general government is but the trustee of the States ; 
and it has no power to make any rule or regulation which 
will throw open the territories to settlement by the people 
of one section of the Union to the exclusion of the people 
of another. The beneficiary interest of the territories is in 
the people of all the States — slave States as well as free — 
and the general government, as the trustee, is bound to exe- 
cute the trust for the common benefit of all. Any legisla- 
tion by Congress, prohibiting slavery in the territories, 
would, therefore, be not only an assumption of power not 
delegated, but would be a violation of the trust which the 
Constitution vested in the general government. 

But, sir, I further hold, that the general government has 
no power to prohibit, by any legislative act, the iutroduc- 

386 THE AGITATION IN 1847—50. 

tion into the territories of any species of property which the 
Constitution of the United States has recognized as prop- 
erty. Property in slaves is not only recognized by the Con- 
stitution, but guarantees are given for its protection. The 
power, therefore, which is given to Congress by the third 
section of the fourth article, to make "all needful rules and 
regulations respecting the territory or other property be- 
longing to the United States," is merely a right to regulate, 
but not a power to abolish that which the Constitution has 
recognized as property. An obligation to protect or regu- 
late gives no power to prohibit or to destroy. And thus, 
while we have the constitutional power to pass laws for the 
protection and regulation of slave property in the territories, 
we have no power to make any legislative enactment for its 
prohibition, whether in the States or territories. In a word, 
sir, the Constitution of the United States is the Constitution 
of the territories, and as that Constitution recognizes the 
right of property in slaves, any prohibition by Congress of 
that right would be in violation of the Constitution, which 
is the supreme law of the land. 

Extract from the Southern Address published in 1830, 
said to have been drawn by Mr. Calhoun : 

We do not deem it necessary, looking to the object of 
this address, to examine the question so fully discussed at 
the last session, whether Congress has the right to exclude 
the citizens of the South from immigrating with their pro- 
perty into territories belonging to the confederated States 
of the Union. What we propose in this connection is, to 
make a few remarks on what the North alleges, erroneously, 
to be the issue between us and them. 

So far from maintaining the doctrine, which the issue 
implies, we hold that the Federal Government has no right 
to extend or restrict slavery, no more than to establish or 
abolish it ; nor has it any right whatever to distinguish be- 

THE AGITATION IN 1847 — 50. 387 

tween the domestic institutions of one State, or section, and 
another, in order to favor the one and discourage the other. 
As the federal representatives of each and all the States, it 
is bound to deal out, within the sphere of its powers, equal 
and exact justice and favor to all. To act otherwise, to 
undertake to discriminate between the domestic institutions 
of one and another, would be to act in total subversion of 
the end for which it was established — to be the common 
protector and guardian of all. Entertaining these opinions, 
we ask not, as the North alleges we do, for the extension of 
slavery. That would make a discrimination in our favor, 
as unjust and unconstitutional as the discrimination they 
ask against us in their favor. It is not for them nor for the 
federal government to determine whether our domestic insti- 
tution is good or bad, or whether it should be repressed 
or preserved. It belongs to us, and us only, to decide such 
questions. What, then, we do insist on is, not to extend 
slavery, but that we shall not be prohibited from immigra- 
ting with our property into the territories of the United 
States because we are slaveholders ; or, in other words, that 
we shall not on that account be disfranchised of a privilege 
possessed by all others, citizens and foreigners, without 
discrimination as to character, profession, or color. All, 
whether savage, barbarian, or civilized, may freely enter 
and remain, we only being "excluded." 



Extract from the opinion of the Court by Chief Justice 
Taney ; also from the opinion of Juchjc Daniels ; and 
from a Pennsylvania case declaring a negro not a 

Taney, C. J. * * * * * The question is simply 
this : Can a negro, whose ancestors were imported into this 
country, and sold as slaves, become a member of the politi- 
cal community formed and brought into existence by the 
Constitution of the United States, and as such, become 
entitled to all the rights, and privileges, and immunities, 
guaranteed by that instrument to the citizen ? One of 
which rights is the privilege of suing in a court of the 
United States, in the cases specified in the Constitution. 

It will be observed, that the plea applies to that class of 
persons only whose ancestors were negroes of the African 
race, and imported into this country, and sold and held as 
slaves. The only matter in issue before the court, therefore, 
is, whether the descendants of such slaves, when theyshall 
be emancipated, or who are born of parents who had be- 
come free before their birth, are citizens of a State, in the 
sense in which the word citizen is used in the Constitution 
of the United States. And this being the only matter in 
dispute on the pleadings, the court must be understood as 
speaking, in this opinion, of that class only ; that is, of 


those persons who are the descendants of Africans who 
were imported into this country and sold as slaves. 

The words " people of the United States" and " citizens" 
are synonymous terms, and mean the same thing. They 
both describe the political body who, according to our 
republican institutions, form the sovereignty, and who hold 
the power and conduct the government through their repre- 
sentatives. They are what we familiarly call the " sovereign 
people," and every citizen is one of this people, and a con- 
stituent member of this sovereignty. The question before 
us is, Whether the class of persons described in the plea in 
abatement compose a portion of this people, and are con- 
stituent members of this sovereignty ? We think they are 
not, and that they are not included, and were not intended 
to be included, under the word "citizens" in the Constitu- 
tion, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privi- 
leges which that instrument provides for and secures to 
citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were 
at that time considered as a subordinate and inferior class 
of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, 
and, whether emancipated or not, yet remain subject to 
their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as 
those who held the power and the government might choose 
to grant them. 

It is not the province of the court to decide upon the 
justice or injustice, the policy or impolicy, of these laws. 
The decision of that question belonged to the political, or 
law-making power ; to those who formed the sovereignty 
and framed the Constitution. The duty of the court is to 
interpret the instrument they have framed, with the best 
lights we can obtain on the subject, and to administer it as 
we find it, according to its true intent and meaning when it 
was adopted. 


In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories 
of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of 
Independence, show that neither the class of persons who had 
been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they 
had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part 
of the people, nor intended to be included in the general 
words used in that memorable instrument. 

It is difficult at this day to realize the state of public 
opinion in relation to that unfortunate race, which prevailed 
in the civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the 
time of the Declaration of Independence, and when the 
Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted. 
But the public history of every European natiou displays 
it in a manner too plain to be mistaken. 

They had for more than a century before been regarded 
as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to asso- 
ciate with the white race, either in social or political rela- 
tions ; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which 
the white man was bound to respect ; and that the negro 
might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his 
benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordi- 
nary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit 
could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed 
and universal in the civilized portion of the white race. It 
was regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics, 
which no one thought of disputing, or supposed to be open 
to dispute ; and men in every grade and position in society 
daily and habitually acted upon it in their private pursuits, 
as well as in matters of public concern, without doubting 
for a moment the correctness of this opinion. 

And in no nation was this opinion more firmly fixed or 
more uniformly acted upon than by the English government 
and English people. They not only seized them on the 
coast of Africa, and sold them or held them in slavery 
for their own use j but they took them as ordinary articles 


of merchandise to every country where they could make a 
profit on them, and even far more extensively engaged in 
this commerce than any other nation in the world. 

The opinion thus entertained and acted upon in England 
was naturally impressed upon the colonies they founded on 
this side of the Atlantic. And accordingly, a negro of the 
African race was regarded by them as an article of property, 
and held, and bought, and sold as such in every one of the 
thirteen colonies which united in the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, and afterwards formed the Constitution of the 
United States. The slaves were more or less numerous in 
the different colonies, as slave labor was found more or less 
profitable. But no one seems to have doubted the correct- 
ness of the prevailing opinion of the time. The legislation 
of the different colonies furnished positive and indisputable 
proof of this fact. 

It would be tedious, in this opinion, to enumerate the va- 
rious laws they passed upon this subject. It will be suffi- 
cient, as a sample of the legislation which then generally 
prevailed throughout the British colonies, to give the laws 
of two of them, one being still a large slaveholding State, 
and the other the first State in which slavery ceased to exist. 

The Province of Maryland, in 1717, (ch. 13, s. 5,) passed 
a law declariug "that if any free negro or mulatto inter- 
marry with any white woman, or any white man shall inter- 
marry with any negro or mulatto woman, such negro or mu- 
latto shall become a slave during life, excepting mulattoes 
born of white women, who, for such intermarriage, shall 
only become servants for seven years, to be disposed of as 
the justices of the county court, where such marriage so 
happens, shall think fit, to be applied by them toward the 
support of a public school within the said county. And 
any white man or white woman, who shall intermarry as 
aforesaid, with any negro or mulatto, such white man or 
white woman shall become a servant for or during the term 


of seven years, and shall he disposed of by the justices as 
aforesaid, and be applied to the uses aforesaid." 

The other colonial law to which we refer, was passed by 
Massachusetts, in 1705, (ch. G.) It is entitled "An Act fur 
the better preventing of a spurious and mixed issue," <fcc, 
and it provides "that if any negro or mulatto shall presume 
to strike or smite any person of the English or other Chris- 
tian nation, such negro or mulatto shall be severely whipped, 
at the discretion of the justice before whom the offender 
shall be convicted." 

And " that none of her Majesty's English or Scottish sub- 
jects, nor of any other Christian nation within this province, 
shall contract matrimony with any negro or mulatto ; nor 
shall any person duly authorized to solemnize marriage, pre- 
sume to join any such in marriage, on pain of forfeiting the 
sum of fifty pounds, one moiety thereof to her Majesty, for 
and toward the support of the government within this pro- 
vince, and the other moiety to him or them who shall inform 
and sue for the same, in any of her Majesty's courts of record 
within the province, by bill, plaint, or information." 

^P ^ nh *r *l* ^F 

The language of the Declaration of Independence is 
equally conclusive. It begins by declaring, that " When, 
in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one 
people to dissolve the political bands which have connected 
them with another, and to assume among the powers of the 
earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of 
nature, and nature's God, entitled them, a decent respect 
for the opinions of mankind require that they should de- 
clare the causes which impel them to the separation." 

It then proceeds to say : " We hold these truths to be 
self-evident — That all men are created equal ; that they 
are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights ; 
that among them is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happi- 
ness ; that, to secure these rights, governments are insti- 


tuted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the 

The general words, above quoted, would seem to embrace 
the whole human family ; and if they were used in a simi- 
lar instrument at this day, would be so understood. But it 
is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were 
not intended to be included, aud formed no part of the 
people who framed and adopted this Declaration ; for if the 
language, as understood in that day, would embrace them, 
the conduct of the distinguished men who framed the 
Declaration of Independence would have been utterly and 
flagrantly inconsistent with principles they asserted ; aud 
instead of the sympathy of mankind to which they so con- 
fidently appealed, they would have deserved and received 
universal rebuke and reprobation. 

Yet, the men who framed this Declaration were great 
men — high in literary acquirements — high in their sense of 
honor, and incapable of asserting principles inconsistent 
with those on. which they were acting. They perfectly un- 
derstood the meaning of the language they used, and how 
it would be understood by others; and they knew that it 
would not, in any part of the civilized world, be supposed 
to embrace the negro race, which, by common consent, had 
been excluded from civilized government and the family of 
nations, and doomed to slavery. They spoke and acted 
according to the then established doctrine and principles, 
and in the ordinary language of the day, and no one mis- 
understood them. The unhappy black race were separated 
from the white by indelible marks, and laws long before 
established, and were never thought or spoken of except as 
property, and when the claims of the owners, or the profit 
of the trader, were supposed to need protection. 

This state of public opinion had received or undergone 

no change when the Constitution was adopted, as is equally 

evident from its provisions and language. 


And if we turn to the legislation of the States where 
slavery had worn out, or measures taken for its speedy abo- 
lition, we shall find the same opinions and principles, equally 
fixed and equally acted upon. 

Thus, Massachusetts, in 1780, pasted a law similar to the 
Colonial one, of which we have spoken. The law of 1786, 
like the law of 1705, forbids the marriage of any white 
persOl to any negro, Indian, or mulatto, and inflicts a pen- 
alty of fifty pounds upon any one who shall join them in 
marriage; and declares all such marriaires absolutely null 
and void, and degrades thus the unhappy issue of the mar- 
riage, by fixing upon it the stain of bastardy. And this 
mark of degradation was renewed, and again impressed 
upon the race, in the careful and deliberate preparation of 
their revised code, published in 183G. This code forbids 
any person from joining in marriage any white person with 
any Indian, negro, or mulatto, and subjects the party who 
shall offend in this respect, to imprisonment, not exceeding 
six months, in the common jail, or to hard labor, and to a 
fine not less than fifty or more than two thousand dollars ; 
aud, like the law of 1786, it declares the marriages abso- 
lutely null and void. It will be seen that the punishment 
is increased by the code upon the person who shall marry 
them, by adding imprisonment to a pecuniary penalty. 

So, too, in Connecticut. We refer more particularly to 
the legislation of this State, because it was not only among 
the first to put an end to slavery withiu its own territory, 
but was the first to fix a mark of reprobation upon the Afri- 
can slave trade. The law last mentioned was passed in 
October 1788, about nine months after the State had ratified 
and adopted the present Constitution of the United States ; 
and by that law it prohibited its own citizens, under severe 
penalties, from engaging in the trade, and declared all 
policies of insurance on the vessel or cargo made in the 
State to be null aud void. But, up to time of the adoption 


of the Constitution, there is nothing in the legislation of the 
State indicating any change of opinion as to the relative 
rights and positions of the white and black races in this 
country, or indicating that it meant to place the latter, when 
free, upon a level with its citizens. And certainly nothing 
which would have led the slaveholding States to suppose 
that Connecticut designed to claim for them, under the new 
Constitution, the equal rights and privileges, and rank of 
citizens, in every other State. 

The first step taken by Connecticut upon this subject was 
as early as 1YT4, when it passed an act forbidding the 
further importation of slaves into the State. But the sec- 
tion containing the prohibition is introduced by the follow- 
ing preamble : 

" And whereas the increase of slaves into this State is inju- 
rious to the poor, and inconvenient." 

This recital would appear to have been carefully intro- 
duced, in order to prevent any misunderstanding of the 
motive which induced the legislature to pass the law, and 
place it distinctly upon the interest and convenience of the 
white population — excluding the inference that it might 
have been intended, in any degree, for the benefit of the 

And in the act of 1784, by which the issue of slaves, born 
after the time therein mentioned, were to be free at a certain 
age, the section is again introduced by a preamble assigning 
a similar motive for the act. It is in these words : 

" Whereas, sound policy requires that the abolition of 
slavery should be effected as soon as may be consistent with 
the rights of individuals and the public safety and welfare," 
— showing that the right of property in the master was to 
be protected, and that the measure was one of policy, and 
to prevent the injury and inconvenience to the whites, of a 
a slave population in the State. 

And still further pursuing its legislation, we find that in 


the same statute passed in 1774, which prohibited the fur- 
ther importation of slaves into the State, there is also a pro- 
vision by which any negro, Indian, or mulatto servant, who 
was found wandering out of the town or place to which he 
belonged, without a written pass such as therein described, 
was made liable to be seized by any one, and taken before 
the next authority, to be examined and delivered up to his 
master, who was required to pay the charge which had ac- 
crued thereby. And a subsequent section of the same law 
provided, that if any free negro shall travel without such 
pass, and shall be stopped, seized, or taken up, he shall pay 
all charges arising thereby. And this law was in full opera- 
tion when the Constitution of the United States was adopted, 
and was not repealed till IT'JT. So that up to that time 
free negroes and mulattocs were associated with servants 
and slaves in the police regulations established by the laws 
of the State. 

And again, in 1833, Connecticut passed another law 
which made it penal to set up or establish any school in 
that State for the instruction of persons of the African 
race, not inhabitants of the State, or to instruct or teach in 
any such school or institution, or board or harbor for that 
purpose, any such person, without the previous consent in 
writing of the civil authority of the town in which such 
school or institution might be. 

And it appears by the case of Crandell v. the State, 
reported in 10 Conn. Rep., 340, that upon an information 
filed against Prudence Crandell for a violation of this law, 
one of the points raised in the defense was, that the law was 
a violation of the Constitution of the United States ; and 
that the persons instructed, although of the African race, 
were citizens of other States, and therefore entitled to the 
rights and privileges of citizens in the State of Connecticut. 
But Chief Justice Dagget, before whom the case was tried, 
held, that persons of that description were not citizens of a 


State within the meaning of the word citizen in the Consti- 
tution of the United States, and were not therefore entitled 
to the privileges and immunities of citizens in other States. 

We extract the following from the opinion of Judge 
Daniels in the same case : 

The power of Congress to impose the prohibition in the 
eighth section of the act of 1820, has been advocated upon 
an attempted construction of the second clause of the third 
section of the fourth article of the Constitution, which de- 
clares that "Congress shall have power to dispose of and to 
make all needful rules and regulations respecting the terri- 
tory and other property belonging to the United States," 

In the discussion in both houses of Congress, at the time 
of adopting the eighth section of the act of 1820, great 
weight was given to the peculiar language of this clause, 
viz., territory and other property belonging to the United 
States, as going to show that power of disposing of and 
regulating, thereby vested in Congress, was restricted to a 
proprietary interest in the territory of land comprised 
therein, and did not extend to the personal or political 
rights of citizens or settlers, inasmuch as this phrase in the 
Constitution, li territory or other property," identified ter- 
ritory with property, and inasmuch as citizens or persons 
could not be property, and especially were not property be- 
longing to the United States. And upon every principle 
of reason or necessity, this power to dispose of and to regu- 
late the territory of the nation could be designed to extend 
no further to its preservation and appropriation to the uses 
of those to whom it belonged, viz., the nation. Scarcely 
anything more illogical or extravagant can be imagined 
than the attempt to deduce from this provision in the Con- 
stitution a power to destroy or in any wise to impair the 
civil and political rights of the citizens of the United States, 
and much more so the power to establish inequalities 


amongst those citizens by creating privileges in one class 
of those cit .ens, and by the disfranchisement of other por- 
tions or classes by degrading them from the position they 
previously occupied. 

There can exist no rational or natural connection or affi- 
nity between a pretension like this and the power vested by 
the Constitution in Congress with regard to the territories ; 
on the contrary, there is an absolute incongruity between 

But whatever the power vested by Congress, and what- 
ever the precis* subject to which that power extended, it is 
clear that the power related to a subject appertaining to the 
United States, and one to be disposed of and regulated for 
the benefit and under the authority of the United States. 
Congress was made simply the agent or trustee for the 
United States, upon equal grounds, legal or equitable. 
Congress could not appropriate that subject to any one 
class or portion of the people to the exclusion of others 
politically and constitutionally equals ; but every citizen 
would, if any one could claim it, have the like rights of pur- 
chase, settlement, occupation, or any other right in their 
national territory. 

Nothing can be more conclusive to show the equality of 
this with every other right in all the citizens of the United 
States, and the iniquity and absurdity of the pretensions to 
exclude or to disfranchise a portion of them because they 
are the owners of slaves, than the fact that the same instru- 
ment, which imparts to Congress its very existence, and its 
very functions, guarantees to the slaveholder the title to his 
property, and gives him the right to reclaim his property 
throughout the country ; and, further, that the only private 
property which the Constitution has specifically recognized, 
and has imposed it as a direct obligation both on the States 
and the federal government to protect and enforce, is the 
property of the master in his slave : no other right of 


property is placed by the Constitution on the same high 
ground, nor shielded by a similar guarantee. 

Can there be imputed to the sages and patriots by whom 
the Constitution was framed, or can there be detected in the 
text of that Constitution, or in any rational construction or 
implication deducible therefrom, a contradiction so palpable 
as would exist between a pledge to the slaveholder of an 
equality with his fellow-citizens, and of the formal and 
solemn assurance for the security and enjoyment of his 
property, and a warrant given as it were uno fiatu to 
another, to rob him of that property, or to subject him to 
proscription and disfranchisement for possessing, or for 
endeavoring to retain it ? The injustice and extravagance 
necessarily implied in a supposition like this, cannot be 
rationally imputed to the patriotic or the honest, or to those 
who were merely sane. 

A conclusion in favor of the prohibitory power in Con 
gress, as asserted in the eighth section of the act of 1820, 
has been attempted, as deducible from the precedent of the 
ordinance of the Convention of 1781, concerning the cession 
by Virginia of the territory northwest of the Ohio : the 
provision in which ordinance relative to slavery, it has been 
attempted to impose upon other and subsequently acquired 

The first circumstance which, in the consideration of tbit 
provision, impresses itself upon my mind, is its utter futility 
and want of authority. This court has, in repeated instances, 
ruled* that whatever may have been the force accorded to 
this ordinance of 1181 at the period of its enactment, its 
authority and effect ceased, and yielded to the paramount 
authority of the Constitution, from the period of the adop- 
tion of the latter. Such is the principle ruled in the cases 
of Pollard's Lessee v. Hagan, (3 How, 212) ; Parmoli v. 
The First Municipality of New Orleans, (3 How, 589 ;) 
Strader v. Graham, (16 How, 82). But apart from the 


superior control of the Constitution, and anterior to the 
adoption of that instrument, it is obvious that the inhibition 
in question never had and never could have an) T legitimate 
and binding force. 

We may seek in vain for any power in the Convention, 
either to require or to accept a condition or restriction 
upon the cession like that insisted on — a condition incon- 
sistent with, and destructive of, the object of the grant. 
The cession was, as recommended by the old Congress in 
1780, made originally and completed ifl term* to the United 
States, and for the benefit of the United States : i. e., for 
the people, all the people, of the United States ■ the con- 
dition subsequently sought to be annexed in 1787, (declared, 
too, to be perpetual and immutable,) being contradictory 
to the terms and destructive of the purposes of the cession, 
and after the cession was consummated, and the powers of 
the ceding party terminated, and the rights of the grantees, 
the people of the United States, vested, must necessarily, 
so far, have been ab initio void. 

With respect to the powers of the Convention to impose 
this inhibition, it seems to be pertinent in this place to 
recur to the opinion of one cotemporary with the establish- 
ment of the government, and whose distinguished services 
in the formation and adoption of our national charter, point 
him out as the artifex maximus of our federal system. 
James Madison, in the year 1819, speaking with reference 
to the prohibitory law claimed by Congress, then threaten- 
ing the very existence of the Union, remarks of the language 
of the second clause of the third section of article fourth 
of the Constitution, "that it cannot be well extended be- 
yond a power over the territory as property, and the power 
to make provisions really needful or necessary for the 
government of settlers, until ripe for admission into the 

Again he says, " with respect to what has taken place in 


the Northwestern Territory, it may be observed, that the 
ordinance giving it its distinctive character on the subject 
of slaveholding proceeded from the old Congress, acting 
with the best intentions, but under a charter which con- 
tains no shadow of the authority exercised ; and it remains 
to be decided how far the States formed in that territory, 
and admitted into the Union, are on a different footing from 
its other members as to their legislative sovereignty. As 
to the power of admitting new States into the federal com- 
pact, the questions offering themselves are, whether Con- 
gress can attach conditions, or the new States concur in 
conditions, which after admission 'would abridge or enlarge 
the constitutional rights of legislation common to other 
States : whether Congress can, by a compact with a new 
State, take power to or from itself, or place the new mem- 
ber above or below the equal rank and rights preserved 
by the others ; whether all such stipulations, expressed or 
implied, would not be nullities, and be so pronounced when 
brought to a practical test. It falls within the scope of 
our inquiry to state the fact, that there was a proposition 
in the Convention to discriminate between the old and the 
new States by an article in the Constitution. The propo- 
sition, happily, was rejected. The effect of such a dis- 
crimination is sufficiently evident." 

In support of the ordinance of l?8t, there may be ad- 
duced the semblance, at least, of obligation deducible from 
compact, the form of assent or agreement between the 
grantor and grantee ; but this form, or similitude, as is 
justly remarked by Mr. Madison, is rendered null by the 
absence of power or authority in the contracting parties, 
and by the more intrinsic and essential defect of incompati- 
bility with the rights and avowed purposes of those parties, 
and with their relative duties and obligations to others. If, 
then, with the attendant formalities of assent, or compact, 
the restrictive power claimed was void as to the immediate 


subject of the ordinance, how much more unfounded must 
be the pretensions of such a power as derived from that 
source, (viz., the ordinance of 1787.) with respect to ter- 
ritory acquired by purchase or conquest under the supreme 
authority of the Constitution — territory not the subject of 
mere donation, but obtained in the name of all, by the 
combined efforts and resources of all, and with no con- 
dition annexed or pretended. 

Synopsis of the case of Jlobbs and others, against Fogg, 
in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in 1837, (6 Watts, 

The plaintiff below, Fogg, was a colored man, or mu- 
latto, and offered his vote at a general election in the town- 
ship of Greenfield, Luzerne county, which was refused by 
the Board of Election. lie then brought his action to 
recover damages against the Board, aud " to maintain his 
rights as a citizen and freeman of the State." The case 
arose under the old Constitution, which declared that 
" every freeman, of the full age of twenty-one years," &c, 
"shall enjoy the rights of an elector." The present Con- 
stitution prefixes the word white to the word freeman. 

The facts of the case were admitted, and the court below 
directed judgment for the plaintiff. 

In the Supreme Court, the case was argued by Hon. 
John N. Conyngham and Hon. H. B. Wright, for plaintiffs 

in error ; and by Hon. Luther Kidder and Greenough, 

for defendant in error. The opinion of the Court was de- 
livered by Chief Justice Gibson, from which we make the 
following extract. It will be seen that it takes the same 
ground, as to the citizenship of the negro, as does the Dred 
Scott case. 

Gibson C. J. * * * * But in addition to inter- 
pretation from usage, this antecedent legislation furnishes 
other proofs that no colored race was party to our social 


compact. As was justly remarked by President Fox, in the 
matter of the late contested election, our ancestors settled 
the province as a community of white men, whence an un- 
conquerable prejudice of caste, which has come down to our 
day, insomuch that a suspicion of tint still has the unjust 
effect of sinking the subject of it below the common level. 
Consistently with this prejudice, is it to be credited that 
parity of rank would be allowed to such a race ? Let the 
question be answered by the statute of 1726, which denomi- 
nated it an idle and a slothful people ; which directed the ma- 
gistrates to bind out free negroes for laziness or vagrancy ; 
which forbade them to harbor Indian or mulatto slaves, on 
pain of stripes ; which annexed to the interdict with a mar- 
riage with white, the penalty of reduction to slavery ; which 
punished them for tippling, with stripes ; and even a white 
person with servitude for intermarriage with a negro. If 
freemen, in a political sense, were subjects of those cruel and 
degrading oppressions, what must have been the lot of their 
brethren in bondage ? It is also true, that degrading posi- 
tions were sometimes assigned to white men, but never as 
members of a caste. Insolvent debtors, to indicate the worst 
of them, were compelled to make satisfaction by servitude ; 
but that was borrowed from a kindred and still less rational 
principle of the common law. This act of 1726, however, 
remained in force until it was repealed by the emancipating 
act of 1780 ; and it is irrational to believe that the progress 
of liberal sentiments was so rapid in the next ten years, as 
to produce a determination in the Convention of 1790, to 
raise this depressed race to the level of the white one. If 
such were its purpose, it is strange that the word chosen to 
effect it should have been the very one chosen by the Con- 
vention of 1776, to designate a white elector. "Every 
fr-eeman," it is said, chap, ii, sec. 6, "of the full age of 
twenty-one years before the day of election, and having paid 
taxes during that time, shall enjoy the rights of an elector. " 


Now if the word freeman was not potent enough to ad- 
mit a free negro to suffrage under the first Constitution, it 
is difficult to discern a degree of magic in the intervening 
plan of emancipation, sufficient to give it adequate potency 
in the apprehension of the Convention under the second. 

The only thing in the history of the Convention which 
casts a doubt upon the intent, is the fact, that the word 
white was prefixed to the word freeman in the report of the 
committee, and subsequently struck out ; probably because 
it was thought superfluous, or still more probably, became 
it was feared respectable men of dark complexion would be 
often insulted at the polls, by objections to their color. I 
have heard it said, that Mr. Gallatin sustained his motion 
to strike out on the latter ground. "Whatever the motion, 
the disseverance is insufficient to warp the interpretation of 
a word on such settled and determinate meaning as the one 
which remained. A legislative body speaks to the judi- 
ciary only through its final act, and expresses its will only 
in the words of it ; and though their meaning may be influ- 
enced by the sense in which they have usually been applied 
to intrinsic matters, we cannot receive an explanation of 
them from what has been moved or said in debate. Were 
he even disposed to pry into the motives of the members, it 
would be impossible for him to ascertain them ; and in at- 
tempting to discover the ground on which the conclusion 
was attained, it is not probable that a member of the ma- 
jority could indicate anything that was common to all. 
Previous propositions are merged in the act of consumma- 
tion, and the interpreter of it must look to that alone. 

I have thought it fair to treat the question as it stands, 
affected by our own municipal regulations, without illustra- 
tion from those of other States, where the condition of the 
race has been still less favored. Yet it is proper to say that 
the second section of the fourth article of the federal Con- 
stitution presents an obstacle to the political freedom of the 


negro, which seems to be insuperable. It is to be remem- 
bered that citizenship as well as freedom is a constitutional 
qualification ; and how it could be conferred so as to over- 
bear the laws imposing countless disabilities on him in other 
States, is a problem of difficult solution. In this aspect the 
question becomes one not of intention, but of power ; and 
of power so doubtful as to forbid the exercise of it. Every 
man must lament the necessity of these disabilities ; but 
slavery is to be dealt with by those whose existence depends 
on the skill with which it is treated. Considerations of 
mere humanity, however, belong to a class with which, as 
judges, we have nothing to do ; and interpreting the Con- 
stitution in the spirit of our institu(io?is f we are bound to 
pronounce that men of color are destitute of title to the elec- 
tive franchise. Their blood, however, may become so di- 
luted in successive descents as to lose its distinctive charac- 
ter, and then both policy and justice require that previous 
disabilities should cease. By the amended Constitution of 
North Carolina, no free negro, mulatto, or free person of 
mixed blood, descended from negro ancestors, to the fourth 
generation inclusive, though one ancestor of each generation 
may have been a white person, shall vote for members of the 

I regret to say, no similar regulation for practical pur- 
poses has been attempted here, in consequence of which 
every case of disputed color must be determined by no par- 
ticular rule, but by the discretion of the judges, and thus » 
great constitutional right, even under the proposed amend- 
ments of the Constitution, will be left a sport of caprice. 
In conclusion, we are of opinion the court erred in direct- 
ing that the plaintiff could have his action against the de- 
fendant for the rejection of his vote. 

Judgment reversed. 

Extract from the opinion of Judge Story. 


The Supreme Court of the United States in the ease of 
Prigg vs. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 16th Peters' 
Rep., wherein Judge Story, in delivering the opinion of 
the court, says : 

" It is historically well known that the elause in the Con- 
stitution of the United States, relating to persons owing 
BCPVice and labor in one State neaping into other States, 
was to secure to the citizens of the slaveholding States the 
complete right and title of ownership in their slaves, as 
property, in every State in the Union into which they might 
escape from the State where thev were held in servitude. 
The full recognition of this right and title was indispensable 
to the security of this species of property in all the slave- 
holding States; and, indeed, was so vital to the preservation 
of their domestic interests and institutions, that it cannot be 
doubted that it is constituted a fundamental article, without 
the adoption of which the Union could not have been 
formed. Its true design was to guard against the doctrines 
and principles prevailing in the non-slaveholding States, by 
preventing them from intermeddling with, or obstructing, or 

abolishing the rights of the owners of slaves. 

11 The clause in the Constitution of the United States, 

relating to fugitives from labor, manifestly contemplates the 

existence of a positive, unqualified right on the part of the 

owner of the slave, which no State law or regulation can in 

any way qualify, regulate, control, or restrain. 

* * * * * * * 

" The owner of a fugitive slave has the same right to 
seize, and to take him in a State to which he has escaped 
or fled that he had in the State from which he escaped ; and 
it is well known that this right to seize or recapture is 
universally acknowledged in all the slaveholding States. 
The court have not the slightest hesitation in holding, that 
under and in virtue of the Constitution, the owner of the 


slave is clothed with authority in every State of the Union 
to seize and recapture his slave, wherever he can do it with- 
out any breach of the peace, or illegal violence. 

" The right to seize and retake fugitive slaves, and the 
duty to deliver them up, in whatever State of the Union 
they may be found, is, under the Constitution, recognized 
as an absolute positive right and duty, pervading the whole 
Union with an equal and supreme force ; uncontrolled and 
uncontrollable by State sovereignty or State legislation. 
The right and duty are co-extensive and uniform in remedy 
and operation throughout the whole Union. The owner 
has the same security, and the same remedial justice, and 
the same exemption from State regulations and control, 
through however many States he may pass with the fugitive 
slave in his possession, in transitu, to his domicile." 

Here the Supreme Court emphatically declare that this 
clause in the Constitution manifestly contemplates the exist- 
ence of a positive, unqualified right on the part of the 
owner of a slave, which no State law or regulation can con- 
trol, and without which the Union could not have been 
formed, and, further, that the right to seize and retake fugi- 
tive slaves, in whatever State of the Union they may be 
found, is an absolute, positive right. But we are not left 
simply with this constitutional provision, for Congress, in 
IT 93, passed an act designed to put the provision into prac- 
tical operation, the last two sections of which are as fol- 
lows : 

" Sec. 3. And be it also enacted, That when a person 
held to labor in any of the United States, or in either of 
the territories on the northwest, or south of the river Ohio 
under the laws thereof, shall escape into any other of the 
said States or territories, the person to whom such labor or 
service may be due, his agent or attorney is hereby empow- 
ered to seize or arrest such fugitive from labor, and to take 


him or her before any judge of the circuit or district courts 
of the United States, residing or being within the State, or 
before any magistrate of a county, city, or town corporate, 
wherein such seizure or arrest shall be made, and upon 
proof to the satisfaction of such judge or magistrate, either 
by oral testimony or affidavit taken before and certified by 
a magistrate of any such State or territory, that the person 
so seized or arrested, doth, under tho laws of the State or 
territory from which she or lie fled, owe service or labor to 
the porsou claiming him or her, it shall be the duty of tho 
judge or magistrate to give a certificate thereof to such 
claimant, his agent or attorney, which shall be sufficient 
warrant for removing the said fugitive from labor to the 
State or territory from which he or she fled. 

"Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That any person 
who shall knowingly and willingly obstruct and hinder such 
claimant, his agent or attorney, in so seizing or arresting 
such fugitive from labor, or shall rescue such fugitive from 
such claimant, his agent or attorney, when so arrested, pur- 
suant to the authority herein given or declared, or shall har- 
bor or conceal such person after notice that he or she was 
a fugitive from labor as aforesaid, shall, for either of the 
said offenses, forfeit and pay the sum of five hundred dol- 
lars. Which penalty may be recovered by and for the 
benefit of such claimant, by action of debt, in any court 
proper to try the same ; saving, moreover, to the person 
claiming such labor or service, his right of action for or on 
account of the said injuries or either of them." 



The oath of office having, on Thursday, April 30, 1789, 
been administered by the Chancellor of the State of New 
York, in the presence of the Senate and House of Repre- 
sentatives, to George Washington, President of the United 
States, he then made the following Inaugural Address : 

Fellow- Citizens of the Senate, and 

of the House of Representatives : 

Among the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could 
have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the 
notification was transmitted by your order, and received on 
the fourteenth day of the present month. On the one hand, 
I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never 
hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I 
had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flatter- 
ing hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my 
declining years ; a retreat which was rendered every day 
more necessary, as well as more dear to me, by the addition 
of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my 
health, to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On 
the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to 
which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to 
awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a 
distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but 
overwhelm with despondence one, who, inheriting inferior 



endowments from nature, and unpracticed in the duties of 
civil administration, onglit to be peculiarly conscious of his 
own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions, all I dare 
aver, is, that it has been my faithful study to collect my 
duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by 
which it might be affected. All I dare hope, is, that if, in 
executing this task, I have been too much swnyed by a 
grateful remembrance of former instances, or by aft affec- 
tionate sensibility to this transcendent proof, of the confi- 
dence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little con- 
sulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty 
and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by 
the motives which misled me, and its consequences be judged 
by my country, with some share of the partiality in which 
they originated. 

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obe- 
dieuce to the public summons, repaired to the present sta- 
tion, it would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first 
official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being 
who rules over the universe — who presides in the councils 
of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every 
human defect — that his benediction may consecrate to the 
liberties and happiness of the people of the United States, 
a government instituted by themselves for these essential 
purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in 
its administration to execute with success the functions 
allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the 
Great Author of every public and private good, I assure 
myself that it expresses your seutiments not less than my 
own ; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than 
either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and 
adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men, 
more than the people of the United States. Every step by 
which they have advanced to the character of an indepen- 
dent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some 


token of providential agency; and in the important revolu- 
tion just accomplished in the system of their united govern- 
ment, the tranquil deliberations, and voluntary consent of 
so many distinct communities, from which the event has 
resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which 
most governments have been established, without some re- 
turn of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation 
of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. 
These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have 
forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be sup- 
pressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there 
are none, under the influence of which the proceedings of a 
new and free government can more auspiciously commence. 
By the article establishing the executive department, it 
is made the duty of the President "to recommend to your 
consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary 
and expedient." The circumstances under which I now 
meet you will acquit me from entering into that subject, 
further than to refer to the great constitutional charter un- 
der which yoa are assembled ; and which, in defining your 
powers, designates the objects to which your attention is 
to be given. It will be more consistent with those circum- 
stances, and far more congenial with the feelings which 
actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of 
particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, 
the rectitude, and the patriotism, which adorn the charac- 
ters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable 
qualifications I behold the surest pledges that, as on one 
side, no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views 
or party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and 
equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage 
of communities and interests ; so, on another, that the foun- 
dations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and 
immutable principles of private morality ; and the pre- 
eminence of free government be exemplified by all the attri- 


butes which can win the affections of its citizens, and com- 
mand the respect of the world. 1 dwell on this prospect 
with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country 
can inspire : since there is no truth more thoroughly estab- 
lished, than that there exists in the economy and course of 
nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happi- 
ness — between duty and advantage — between the genuine 
maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the 
solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity ; since we 
ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of 
Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards 
the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself 
has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire 
of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of 
government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as 
finally, staked, on the experiment intrusted to the hands of 
the American people. 

Besides the ordinary objects submitted to your care, it 
will remain with your judgment to decide how far an ex- 
ercise of the occasional power delegated by the fifth article 
of the Constitution, is rendered expedient at the present 
juncture, by the nature of objectioDs which have been urged 
against the system, or by the degree of inquietude which 
has given birth to them. Instead of undertaking particu- 
lar recommendations on this subject, in which I could be 
guided by no lights derived from official opportunities, I 
shall again give way to my entire confidence in your dis- 
cernment and pursuit of the public good ; for, I assure 
myself, that whilst you carefully avoid every alteration 
which might endanger the benefits of an united and effec- 
tive government, or whieh ought to await the future lessons 
of experience, a reverence for the characteristic rights of 
freemen, and a regard for the public harmony, will suffi- 
ciently influence your deliberations on the question, how 


far the former can be more irnpregnably fortified, or the 
latter be safely and advantageously promoted. 

To the preceding observations I have one to add, which 
will be most properly addressed to the House of Repre- 
sentatives. It concerns myself, and will, therefore, be as 
brief as possible. When I was first honored with a call 
into the service of my country, then on the eve of an ardu- 
ous struggle for its liberties, the light in which I contem- 
plated my duty required that I should renounce every pe- 
cuniary compensation. From this resolution I have in no 
instance departed ; and being still under the impressions 
which produced it, I must decline, as inapplicable to my- 
self, any share in the personal emoluments which may be 
indispensably included in a permanent provision for the ex- 
ecutive department ; and must accordingly pray that the 
pecuniary estimates for the station in which I am placed, 
may, during my continuance in it, be limited to such actual 
expenditures as the public good may be thought to require. 

Having thus imparted to you my sentiments, as they 
have been awakened by the occasion which brings us to- 
gether, I shall take my present leave ; but not without re- 
sorting once more to the benign Parent of the human race 
in humble supplication, that, since he has been pleased to 
favor the American people with opportunities for delibe- 
rating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding, 
with unparalleled unanimity, on a form of government for 
the security of their Union, and the advancement of their 
happiness, so his Divine blessing may be equally conspicu- 
ous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and 
the wise measures, on which the success of this government 
must depend. G. WASHINGTON. 

April 30, 1789. 



March 4, 17 ( .) 7. 

When it was first perceived, in early times, that no middle 
course for America remained between unlimited submission 
to a foreign legislature and a total independence of its 
claims, men of reflection were less apprehensive of danger 
from the formidable power of fleets and armies they must 
determine to resist, than from those contents and dissensions 
which would certainly arise concerning the forms of govern- 
ment to be instituted over the whole and over the parts of 
this extensive country. Relying, however, on the purity of 
their intentions, the justice of their cause, and the integrity 
and intelligence of the people, under an overruling Provi- 
dence, which had so signally protected this country from 
the first, the representatives of this nation, then consisting 
of little more than half its present number, not only broke 
to pieces the chains which were forging, and the rod of 
iron that was lifted up, but frankly cut asunder the ties 
which had bound them, and launched into an ocean of un- 

The zeal and ardor of the people, during the revolutionary 
war, supplying the place of government, commanded a de- 
gree of order, sufficient at least for the temporary preserva- 
tion of society. The Confederation, which was early felt 
to be necessary, was prepared from the models of the 
Batavian and Helvetic confederacies — the only examples 
which remain, with any detail and precision, in history, and 
certainly the only ones which the people at large had ever 
considered. But, reflecting on the striking difference, in so 
many particulars, between this country and those where a 
courier may go from the seat of government to the frontier 
in a single day, it was then certainly foreseen, by some who 
assisted in Congress at the formation of it, that it could not 
be durable. 


Negligence of its regulations, inattention to its recom- 
mendations, if not disobedience to its authority, not only 
in individuals, but in States, soon appeared, with their 
melancholy consequences : universal languor ; jealousies and 
rivalries of States ; decline of navigation and commerce ; 
discouragement of necessary manufactures ; universal fall in 
the value of lands and their produce ; contempt of public 
and private faith ; loss of consideration and credit with 
foreign nations ; and, at length, in discontents, animosities, 
combinations, partial conventions, and insurrection, threat- 
ening some great national calamity. 

In this dangerous crisis, the people of America were not 
abandoned by their usual good sense, presence of mind, 
resolution, or integrity. Measures were pursued to concert 
a plan to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure 
domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, pro- 
mote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty, 
The public disquisitions, discussions, and deliberations, 
issued in the present happy constitution of government. 

Employed in the service of my country abroad during 
the whole course of these transactions, I first saw the Con- 
stitution of the United States in a foreign country. Irri- 
tated by no literary altercation, animated by no public 
debate, heated by no party animosity, I read it with great 
satisfaction, as the result of good heads, prompted by good 
hearts — as an experiment, better adapted to the genius, 
character, situation, and relations, of this nation and coun- 
try, than any which had ever been proposed or suggested. 
In its general principles and great outlines, it was con- 
formable to such a system of government as I had ever most 
esteemed, and in some States, my own native State in par- 
ticular, had contributed to establish. Claiming a right of 
suffrage, in common with my fellow- citizens, in the adoption 
or rejection of a Constitution which was to rule me and my 
posterity, as well as them and theirs, I did not hesitate to 


express my approbation of it, on all occasions, in public 
and in private. It was not then, nor has been since, any 
objection to it, in ray mind, that the executive and Senate 
were not more permanent. Nor have I ever entertained a 
thought of promoting any alteration in it, but such as the 
people themselves, in the course of their experience! should 
see and feel to be necessary or expedient, and, by their 
representatives in Congress and the State legislatures, 
according to the Constitution itself, adopt and ordain. 

Returning to the bosom of my country, after a painful 
separation from it, for ten years, I had the honor to be 
elected to a station under the new order of things, and I 
have repeatedly laid myself under the most serious obliga- 
tions to support the Constitution. The operation of it has 
equalled the most sanguine expectations of its friends ; and, 
from an habitual attention to it, satisfaction in its adminis- 
tration, and delight in its effects upou the peace, order, 
prosperity and happiness of the nation, I have acquired an 
habitual attachment to it and veneration for it. 

What other form of government, indeed, can so well 
deserve our esteem and love ? 

There may be little solidity in an ancient idea, that con- 
gregations' of men into cities and nations are the most 
pleasing objects in the sight of superior intelligences ; but 
this is very certain, that, to a benevolent human mind, there 
can be no spectacle presented by any nation more pleasing, 
more noble, majestic, or august, than an assembly like that 
which has so often been seen in this and the other chamber 
of Congress, of a government in which the executive 
authority, as well as that of all the branches of the legisla- 
ture, are exercised by citizens selected, at regular periods, 
by their neighbors, to make and execute laws for the gene- 
ral good. Can anything essential, anything more than 
mere ornament and decoration, be added to this by robes 
and diamonds ? Can authority be more amiable and 


respectable when it descends from accidents, or institutions 
established in remote antiquity, than when it springs fresh 
from the hearts and judgments of an honest and enlightened 
people ? For it is the people only that are represented : 
it is their power and majesty that is reflected, and only fur 
their good, in every legitimate government, under whatever 
form it may appear. The existence of sucli a government 
as ours, for any length of time, is a full proof of a general 
dissemination of knowledge and virtue throughout the 
whole body of the people. And what object or considera- 
tion more pleasing than this can be presented to the human 
mind ? If national pride is ever justifiable, or excusable, it 
is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or 
glory, but from conviction of national innocence, informa- 
tion, and benevolence. 

In the midst of these pleasing ideas, we should be un- 
faithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the 
danger to our liberties — if anything partial or extraneous 
should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and inde- 
pendent elections. If an election is to be determined by a 
majority of a single vote, and that can be secured by a 
party, through artifice or corruption, the government may 
be the choice of a party, for its own ends — not of the 
nation, for the national good. If that solitary suffrage can 
be obtained by foreign nations by flattery or menaces, by 
fraud or violence, by terror, intrigue, or venality, the gov- 
ernment may not be the choice of the American people, 
but of foreign nations. It may be foreign nations who 
govern us, and not we the people who govern ourselves. 
And candid men will acknowledge, that, in such cases, choice 
would have little advantage to boast of, over lot or chance. 

Such is the amiable and interesting system of government 
(and such are some of the abuses to which it may be exposed) 
which the people of America have exhibited to the admira- 
tion and anxiety of the wise and virtuous of all nations, for 


eight years, under the administration of a citizen, who, by 
a long course of great actions, regulated by prudence, jus- 
tice, temperance, and fortitude, conducting a people inspired 
with the same virtues, and animated with the same ardent 
patriotism and love of liberty, to independence and peace, 
to increasing wealth and unexampled prosperity, has merited 
the gratitude of his fellow-citizens, commanded the highest 
praises of foreign nations, and secured immortal glory with 

In that retirement which is his Voluntary choice, may he 
long live to enjoy the delicious recollection of his services, 
t he gratitude of mankind, the happy fruits of them to him- 
self and the world, which are daily increasing, and that 
splendid prospect of the future fortunes of this country 
which is opening from year to year. His name may be still 
a rampart, and the knowledge that he lives a bulwark, 
against all open or secret enemies of his country's peace. 
This example has been recommended to the imitation of his 
successors, by both houses of Congress and by the voice of 
the legislatures and the people throughout the nation. 

On this subject it might become me better to be silent, or 
to speak with diffidence ; but, as something may be expected, 
the occasion, I hope, will be admitted as an apology, if I 
venture to say, That — 

If a preference, upon principle, of a free republican 
government, formed upon long and serious reflection, after 
a diligent and impartial inquiry after truth ; if an attach- 
ment to the Constitution of the United States, and a con 
scientious determination to support it, until it shall be 
altered by the judgments and wishes of the people, expressed 
in the mode prescribed in it ; if a respectable attention to the 
constitutions of the individual States, and a constant caution 
-and delicacy towards the State governments ; if an equal 
and impartial regard to the rights, interest, honor, and happi- 
ness, of all the States in the Union, without preference or 


regard to a northern or southern, an eastern or western 
position, their various political opinions on unessential 
points, or their personal attachments ; if a love of virtuous 
men, of all parties and denominations ; if a love of science 
and letters, and a wish to patronize every rational effort to 
encourage schools, colleges, universities, academies, and 
every institution for propagating knowledge, virtue, and re- 
ligion, among all classes of the people, not only for their 
benign influence on the happiness of life in all its stages 
and classes, and of society in all its forms, but as the only 
means of preserving our Constitution from its natural 
enemies, the spirit of sophistry, the spirit of party, the spirit 
of intrigue, the profligacy of corruption, and the pestilence 
of foreign influence, which is the angel of destruction to 
elective governments ; if a love of equal laws, of justice, 
and humanity, in the interior administration ; if an inclina- 
tion to improve agriculture, commerce, and manufactures 
for necessity, convenience, and defense ; if a spirit of equity 
and humanity towards the aboriginal nations of America, 
and a disposition to meliorate their condition, by inclining 
them to be more friendly to us, and our citizens to be more 
friendly to them ; if an inflexible determination to maintain 
peace and inviolable faith with all nations, and that system 
of neutrality and impartiality among the belligerent powers 
of Europe which has been adopted by this government, and 
so solemnly sanctioned by both houses of Congress, and 
applauded by the legislatures of the States and the public 
opinion, until it shall be otherwise ordained by Congress ; 
if a personal esteem for the French nation, formed in a resi- 
dence of seven years chiefly among them, and a sincere de- 
sire to preserve the friendship which has been so much for 
the honor and interest of both nations ; if, while the con- 
scious honor and integrity of the people of America, and 
' the internal sentiment of their own power and energies, 
must be preserved, an earnest endeavor to investigate every 


just cause, and remove e\ cry colorable pretense of complaint j 
if an intention to pursue, by amicable negotiation, a repara- 
tion for the injuries that have been committed on the com- 
merce of our fellow-citizens, by whatever nation, and if 
success cannot be obtained, to lay the facts before the 
legislature, that they may consider what further measures 
the honor and interest ol ti. rnmciit and its constitu- 

ents demand; if a resolution to do justice, M far M may 
depend upon me, at all times and to all nations, and main- 
tain peace, friendship, and benevolence, with all the world; 
if an unshaken confidence in the honor, spirit, and resouotf 

of the American people, on which I ha>e BO often hazarded 
my all, and never been deceived ; if elevated ideas of the 
high destinies, of this country, and of my own duties toward 
it, founded on a knowledge of the moral principles and in- 
tellectual improvements of the people, deeply engraven on 
my mind in early life, ami not obscured, but exalted, by 
experience and age ; and, with humble reverence, I feel it 
to be my duty to add, if a veneration for the religion of a 
people who profess and call themselves Christians, and a 
fixed resolution to consider a decent respect for Christianity 
among the best recommendations for the public service, — 
can enable me, iu any degree, to comply with your wishes, 
it shall be my strenuous endeavor that this sagacious injunc- 
tion of the two houses shall not be without effect. 

With this great example before me — with the sense and 
spirit, the faith and honor, the duty and interest, of the 
same American people, pledged to support the Constitution 
of the United States, I entertain no doubt of its continuance 
in all its energy, and my mind is prepared, without hesita- 
tion, to lay myself under the most solemn obligations to 
support it to the utmost of my power. 

And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron 
of order, the Fountain of justice, and the Protector, in all 
ages of the world, of virtuous liberty, continue His bless- 


ing upon this nation and its government, and give it all 
possible success and duration consistent with the ends of 
His providence. 


At his first term of office, March 4, 1801. 

Friends and fellow-citizens : — Called upon to undertake 
';he duties of the first executive office of our country, I 
avail myself of the presence of that portion of my fellow 
citizens which is here assembled, to express my grateful 
thanks for the favor with which they have been pleased to 
look towards me, to declare a sincere consciousness that the 
task is above my talents, and that I approach it with those 
anxious and awful presentiments which the greatness of the 
charge, and the weakness of my powers, so justly inspire. 
A rising nation, spread over a wide and fruitful land ; 
traversing all the seas with the rich productions of their 
industry ; engaged in commerce with nations who feel 
power, and forget right ; advancing rapidly to destinies be- 
yond the reach of mortal eye — when I contemplate these 
transcendent objects, and see the honor, the happiness, and 
the hopes of this beloved country, committed to the issue 
and the auspices of this day, I shrink from the contem- 
plation, and humble myself before the magnitude of the 
undertaking. Utterly, indeed, should I despair, did not 
the presence of many whom I here see, remind me, that, in 
the other high authorities provided by our Constitution, I 
shall find resources of wisdom, of virtue, and of zeal, on 
which to rely under all difficulties. To you, then, gentle- 
men, who are charged with the sovereign functions of 
legislation, and to those associated with you, I look with 
encouragement for that guidance and support which may 
enable us to steer with safety the vessel in which we are all 


embarked, amidst the conflicting elements of a troubled 

During the contest of opinion through which we have 
passed, the animation of discussions and of exertions has 
sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on Strang! 
Unused to think freely, and to speak and to write what they 
may think ; but, this being no If decided by the voice of the 
nation, announced, according to the rules of the Constitution, 
all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the 
law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. 
All, too, will bear in mind tbifl sacred principle, that, though 
the will of the majority is in all eases to prevail, that will, 
to be rightful, mast bs reasonable ; that the minority pos- 
sess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and 
to violate would be oppression. 1 I us, then, fellow- 
citizens, unite, with one heart and one Blind j let us restore 
to social intercourse, that harmony and affection, without 
which liberty, and even life itself, are but dreary things. 
And let us reflect, that, having banished from our land that 
religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and 
suffered, we have yet gained little, if we countenance a po- 
litical intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of 
as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes and 
convulsions of the ancient world ; during the agonizing 
spasms of infuriated man, seeking, through blood and 
slaughter, his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that 
the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant 
and peaceful shore ; that this should be more felt and 
feared by some, and less by others, and should divide 
opinions as to measures of safety ; but every difference of 
opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called 
by different names brethren of the same principle. We are 
all republicans ; we are all federalists. If there be any 
among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to 
change its republican form, let them stand, undisturbed, as 


monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may 
be tolerated, ivhere reason is left free to combat it. I 
know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican 
government cannot be strong — that this government is not 
strong enough. But would the honest patriot, in the full 
tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which 
has so far kept us free and firm, on the theoretic and vis- 
ionary fear, that this government, the world's best hope, 
may, by possibility, want energy to preserve itself? I trust 
not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest govern- 
ment on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, 
at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, 
and would meet invasions of the public order as his own 
personal concern. Sometimes, it is said, that man cannot 
be trusted with the government of himself. Can he then 
be trusted with the government of others ? Or, have we 
found angels, in the form of kings, to govern him ? Let 
history answer this question. 

Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own 
federal and republican principles — our attachment to union 
and representative government. Kindly separated by na- 
ture and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one 
quarter of the globe ; too high-minded to endure the degra- 
dations of the others ; possessing a chosen country, with 
room enough for our descendants to the hundredth and 
thousandth generation ; entertaining a due sense of our 
equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisi- 
tions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our 
fellow-citizens, resulting, not from birth, but from our ac- 
tions, and their sense of them ; enlightened by a benign re- 
ligion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet 
all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, 
and the love of man ; acknowledging and adoring an over- 
ruling Providence, which, by all its dispensations, proves 
that it delights in the happiness of man here, and his greater 


happiness hereafter — with all these blessings, what more is 
necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people ? Still 
one thing more, fellow-citizens : a wise and frugal govern- 
ment, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, 
shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pur- 
suits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from 
the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the 
sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the 
circle of our felicities. 

About to enter, fellow-citizens, on the exercise of duties 
which comprehend everything dear and valuable to you, it 
is proper you should understand what 1 deem the essential 
principles of our government, and consequently, those which 
ought to shape its administration. I will compress them 
within the narrowest compass they will bear — stating the 
general principle, but not all its limitations. Equal and 
exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, re- 
ligious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship 
with all nations, entangling alliances with none ; the support 
of the State governments in all their rights, as the most com- 
petent administrations for our domestic concerns, and the 
surest bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies ; the pre- 
servation of the general government in its whole constitu- 
tional vigor, as the sheet-anchor of our peace at home and 
safety abroad ; a jealous care of the right of election by the 
people ; a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are 
lopped by the sword of revolution, where peaceable remedies 
are unprovided ; absolute acquiescence in the decisions of 
the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which is 
no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate 
parent of despotism ; a well-disciplined militia, our best re- 
liance in peace, and for the first moments of war, till regu- 
lars may relieve them ; the supremacy of the civil over the 
military authority ; economy in the public expense, that 
labor may be lightly burdened ; the honest payment of our 


debts, and sacred preservation of the public faith ; encourage- 
ment of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid ; the 
diffusion of information, and arraignment of all abuses at the 
bar of the public reason ; freedom of religion, freedom of the 
press, and freedom of person, under the protection of the 
habeas corpus ; and trial by juries impartially selected. 
These principles form the bright constellation which has 
gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of revo- 
lution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood 
of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They 
should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic 
instruction, the touch-stone by which to try the services of 
those we trust ; and should we wander from them in mo- 
ments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps, 
and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, 
and safety. 

I repair, then, fellow-citizens, to. the post you have assigned 
me. With experience enough in subordinate offices to have 
seen the difficulties of this, the greatest of all, I have learned 
to expect that it will rarely fall to the lot of imperfect man 
to retire from this station with the reputation and the favor 
which brought him into it. Without pretensions to that 
high confidence you reposed in our first and greatest revo- 
lutionary character, whose pre-eminent services had entitled 
him to the first place in his country's love, and destined for 
him the fairest page in the volume of faithful history, I ask 
so much confidence only as may give firmness and effect to 
the legal administration of your affairs. I shall often go 
wrong, through defect of judgment. When right, I shall 
often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not 
command a view of the whole ground. I ask your indul- 
gence for my own errors, which will never be intentional, 
and your support against the errors of others, who may con- 
demn what they would not if seen in all its parts. The ap- 
probation implied by your suffrage is a great consolation to 


me for the past; and my future solicitude will be, to retain 
the good opinion of those who have bestowed it in advance, 
to conciliate that of other- by doing them all the good in 
my power, and to bo instrumental to the happiness and free- 
dom of all. 

Reljing, then, on the patronage of your good will, I ad- 
vance with obedience to the work, ready to retire from it 
whenever you beeoBe leneible how mien better choices it 
is in your power to make. And may that Infinite Tower 
which rules the destinies of the universe, lend our councils 
to what is best, and give them a favorable iwoe for your 
peace and prosperity. 


At his second term of office, 31<ir<l} 4, 1805. 

Proceeding", fellow-citizens, to that qualification which 
the Constitution requires before my entrance on the charge 
again conferred on me, it is my duty to express the deep 
sense I entertain of this new proof of confidence from ray 
fellow-citizens at large, and the zeal with which it inspires 
me so to conduct myself as may best satisfy their just ex- 

On taking this station, on a former occasion, I declared 
the principles on which I believed it my duty to administer 
the affairs of' our commonwealth. My conscience tells me 
I have, on every occasion, acted up to that declaration, ac- 
cording to its obvious import, and to the understanding 
of every candid mind. 

In the transaction of your foreign affairs, we have endea- 
vored to cultivate the friendship of all nations, and espe- 
cially of those with which we have the most important rela- 
tions. We have done them justice on all occasions, favor 
where favor was lawful, and cherished mutual interests and 
intercourse on fair and equal terms. We are firmly con- 


vinced, and we act on that conviction, that with nations as 
•with individuals, our interest, soundly calculated, will ever 
be found inseparable from our moral duties ; and history 
bears witness to the fact, that a just nation is trusted on its 
word when recourse is had to armaments and wars to bridle 

At home, fellow-citizens, you best know whether we have 
done well or ill. The suppression of unnecessary offices, of 
useless establishments and expenses enabled us to discon- 
tinue our internal taxes. These, covering our land with 
officers, and opening our doors to their intrusions, had 
already begun that process of domiciliary vexation which, 
once entered, is scarcely to be restrained from reaching 
successively, every article of property and produce. If, 
among these taxes, some minor ones fell, which had not 
been inconvenient, it was because their amount would not 
have paid the officers who collected them, and because, if 
they had any merit, the State authorities might adopt them 
instead of others less approved. 

The remaining revenue, on the consumption of foreign 
articles, is paid chiefly by those who can afford to add 
foreign luxuries to domestic comforts. Being collected on 
our seaboard and frontiers only, and incorporated with the 
transactions of our mercantile citizens, it may be the plea- 
sure and the pride of an American to ask, what farmer, 
what mechanic, what laborer, ever sees a tax-gatherer of the 
United States ? These contributions enable us to support 
the current expenses of the government; to fulfil contracts 
with foreign nations ; to extinguish the native right of soil 
within our limits ; to extend those limits ; and to apply such 
a surplus to our public debts'as places at a short day their 
final redemption ; and that redemption once effected, the 
revenue thereby liberated may, by a just repartition of it 
among the States, and a corresponding amendment of the 
Constitution, be applied, in time of peace, to rivers, canals, 


roads, arts, manufactures, education, and other great ob- 
jects, within eacli State. In time of MWr, if injustice by 
ourselves or others must sometimes produce war, increased, 
as the same revenue will be, by increased population and 
consumption, and aided by other resources reserved for that 
crisis, it may meet, within the year, all the expenses of the 
year, without encroaching on the rights of future genera- 
tions, by burdening them with the debts of the past. War 
will then be but a suspension of useful works ; and a return 
to a state of peace, a return to the progress of improve- 

I have said, fellow-citizens, that the income reserved had 
enabled us to extend our limits; but that extension may 
possibly pay for itself before we are called on, and, in the 
mean time, may keep down the accruing interest ; in all 
events, it will replace the advances we shall have made. I 
know that the acquisition of Louisiana has been disapproved 
by some, from a candid apprehension that the enlargement 
of our territory would endanger its union. But who can 
limit the extent to which the federative principle may 
operate effectively ? The larger our associations, the less 
will it be shaken by local passions ; and, in any view, is it 
not better that the opposite bank of the Mississippi should 
be settled by our own brethren and children than by stran- 
gers of another family ? With which should we be most 
likely to live in harmony and friendly intercourse ? 

In matters of religion, I have considered that its free 
exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the 
powers of the general government. I have therefore under- 
taken, on no occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises 
suited to it, but have left them, as the Constitution found 
them, under the direction and discipline of the church or 
State authorities acknowledged by the several religious 

The aboriginal inhabitants of these countries I have re- 


garded with the commiseration their history inspires. En- 
dowed with the faculties and the rights of men, breathing 
an ardent love of liberty and independence, and occupying 
a country which left them no desire but to be undisturbed, 
the stream of overflowing population from other regions 
directed itself on these shores. Without power to divert, 
or habits to contend against it, they have been overwhelmed 
by the current, or driven before it. Now reduced within 
limits too narrow for the hunter state, humanity enjoins us 
to teach them agriculture and the domestic arts, to encourage 
them to that industry which alone can enable them to main- 
tain their place in existence, and to prepare them, in time, 
for that state of society which to bodily comforts adds the 
improvement of the mind and morals. We have, therefore, 
liberally furnished them with the implements of husbandry 
and household use : we have placed among them instructors 
in the arts of first necessity ; and they are covered with the 
aegis of the law against aggressors from among ourselves. 

But the endeavors to enlighten them on the fate which 
awaits their present course of life, to induce them to exercise 
their reason, follow its dictates, and change their pursuits 
with the change of circumstances, have powerful obstacles 
to encounter. They are combated by the habits of their 
bodies, prejudices of their minds, ignorance, pride, aud the 
influence of interested and crafty individuals among them, 
who feel themselves something in the present order of things, 
and fear to become nothing in any other. These persons 
inculcate a sanctimonious reverence for the customs of their 
ancestors ; that whatsoever they did must be done through 
all time ; that reason is a false guide, and to advance under 
its counsel in their physical, moral, or political condition, is 
perilous innovation ; that their duty is to remain as the 
Creator made them — ignorance being safety, and knowledge 
full of danger. In short, my friends, among them, also, is 
Been the action and counteraction of good sense and of 


bigotry. They, too, have their anti-philosophists, who find 
an interest in keeping things in their present state, who 
dread reformation, and exert all their facilities to maintain 
the ascendency of habit over the duty of improving our 
reason and obeying its mandates. 

In giving these outlines, I do not mean, fellow-citizens, 
to arrogate to myself the merit of the measures : that is 
due, in the first place, to the reBecting character of our 
citizens at large, who, by the weight of public opinion, 
influence and strengthen the public measures. It is due to 
the sound discretion with which they select from among 
themselves those to whom they confide the legislative duties. 
It is due to the zeal and whilom of the characters thus 
selected, who lay the foundations of public happiness in 
wholesome laws^the execution of which alone remains for 
others. And it is due to the able and faithful auxiliaries 
whose patriotism has associated them with me in the execu- 
tive functions. 

During this course of administration, and in order to 
disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against 
us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise 
or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to 
freedom and science are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as 
they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety. 
They might, indeed, have been corrected by the wholesome 
punishments reserved to and provided by the laws of the 
several States against falsehood and defamation ; but public 
duties, more urgent, press on the time of public servants, 
and the offenders have therefore been left to find their 
punishment in the public indignation. 

Nor was it uninteresting to the world, that an experiment 
should be fairly and fully made, whether freedom of dis- 
cussion, unaided by power, is not sufficient for the propaga- 
tion and protection of truth ? Whether a government, 
conducting it-elf in the true spirit of its constitution, with 


zeal and purity, and doing no act which it would be unwil- 
ling the whole world should witness, can be written down 
by falsehood and defamation ? The experiment has been 
tried. You have witnessed the scene. Our fellow-citizens 
looked on cool aud collected. They saw the latent source 
from which these outrages proceeded. They gathered 
around their public functionaries ; and, when the Constitu- 
tion called them to the decision by suffrage, they pronounced 
their verdict honorable to those who had served them, and 
consolatory to the friend of man, who believes that he may 
be trusted with the control of his own affairs. 

No inference is here intended that the laws provided by 
the States against false and defamatory publications should 
not be enforced. He who has time, renders a service to 
public morals and public tranquillity in reforming these 
abuses by the salutary coercions of the law. But the 
experiment is noted to prove that, since truth and reason 
have maintained their ground against false opinions, in 
league with false facts, the press, confined to truth, needs 
no other legal restraint. The public judgment will correct 
false reasonings and opinions, on a full hearing of all par- 
ties ; and no other definite line can be drawn between the 
inestimable liberty of the press and its demoralizing licen- 
tiousness. If there be still improprieties which this rule 
would not restrain, its supplement must be sought in the 
censorship of public opinion. 

Contemplating the union of sentiment now manifested so 
generally, as auguring harmony and happiness to our future 
course, I offer to our country sincere congratulations. With 
those, too, not yet rallied to the same point, the disposition 
to do so is gaining strength. Facts are piercing through 
the veil drawn over them ; and our doubting brethren will 
at length see that the mass of their fellow-citizens, with 
whom they cannot yet resolve to act, as to principles and 
measures, think as they think, and desire what they desire ; 


that our wish, us well as theirs, is, that the public efforts 
may be directed honestly to the public good, thai peace be 

cultivated, civil and religious liberty umissailed, law and 
order preserved, equality of rights maintained, and that 
state of property, equal or unequal, which results to every 
man from his own industry or that of his father's. When 
satisfied of these views, it is not in human nature that they 
should not approve and support them. In the mean time, 
let us cherish them with patient affection ; let us do 
them justice, and more than justice, iu all competitions 
of interest — and we need not doubt that truth, reason, 
and their own interests, will at length prevail — will gather 
them into the fold of their country, and will complete that 
entire union of opinion which gives to a nation the blessing 
of harmony, and the benefit of all its strength. 

I shall now enter on the duties to which my fellow- 
citizens have again called me, and shall proceed in the 
spirit of those principles which they have approved. I fear 
not that any motives of interest may lead me astray. I am 
sensible of no passion which could seduce me, knowingly, 
from the path of justice ; but the weaknesses of human na- 
ture, and the limits of my own understanding, will produce 
errors of judgment sometimes injurious to your interests. 
I shall need, therefore, all the indulgence which I have 
heretofore experienced from my constituents. The want 
of it will certaiuly not lessen with increasing years. I shall 
need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are ; 
who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land, 
and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessa- 
ries and comforts of life ; who has covered our infancy with 
his providence, and our riper years with his wisdom and 
power ; and to whose goodness I ask you to join in suppli- 
cations with me, that he will so enlighten the minds of your 
servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures, 
that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, and shall 


gecure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of 
all nations. 


At his First Term of Office, March 4, 1809. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, 

and of the House of Representatives: 

Unwilling to depart from examples of the most revered 
authority, I avail myself of the occasion now presented, to 
express the profound impression made on me, by the call 
of my country, to the station, to the duties of which I am 
about to pledge myself, by the most solemn of sanctions. 
So distinguished a mark of confidence, proceeding from the 
deliberate and tranquil suffrage of a free and virtuous na- 
tion, would, under any circumstances, have commanded my 
gratitude and devotion, as well as filled me with an awful 
sense of the trust to be assumed. Under the various cir- 
cumstances which give peculiar solemnity to the existing 
period, I feel that both the honor and the responsibility 
allotted to me, are inexpressibly enhanced. 

The present situation of the world is, indeed, without a 
parallel ; and that of our country full of difficulties. The 
pressure of these two is the more severely felt, because they 
have fallen upon us at a moment when national prosperity, 
being at a height not before attained, the contrast resulting 
from this change has been rendered the more striking. 
Under the benign influence of our republican institutions, 
and the maintenance of peace with all nations, whilst so 
many of them were engaged in bloody and wasteful wars f 
the fruits of a just policy were enjoyed in an unrivaled 
growth of our faculties and resources. Proofs of this were 
seen in the improvements of agriculture; in the successful 
enterprises of commerce ; in the progress of manufactures 
and useful arts ; in the increase of the public revenue, and 


the use made of it in reducing the public debt ; and in the 
valuable works and establishments everywhere multiplying 
over the face of our land. 

It is a precious reflection, that the transition from this 
prosperous condition of our country, to the scene which has 
for some time been distressing us, is not chargeable on any 
unwarrantable views, nor, as I trust, on any involuntary 
errors in the public councils. Indulging no passions which 
trespass on the rights or the repose of other nations, it has 
been the true glory of the United States to cultivate peace, 
by observing justice, and to entitle themselves to the respect 
of the nations at war, by fulfilling their neutral obligations 
with the most scrupulous impartiality. If there be candor 
in the world, the truth of these assertions will not be ques- 
tioned. Posterity, at least, will do justice to them. 

This unexceptionable course could not avail against the 
injustice and violence of the belligerent powers. In their 
rage against each other, or impelled by more direct motives, 
principles of retaliation have been introduced, equally con- 
trary to universal reason and acknowledged law. How 
long their arbitrary edicts will be continued, in spite of the 
demonstrations that not even a pretext for them has been 
given by the United States, and of the fair and liberal 
attempts to induce a revocation of them, cannot be antici- 
pated. Assuring myself that, under every vicissitude, the 
determined spirit and united councils of the nation will be 
safeguards to its honor and its essential interests, I repair 
to the post assigned me, with no other discouragement than 
what springs from my own inadequacy to its high duties 
If I do not sink under the weight of this deep conviction, 
it is because I find some support in a consciousness of the 
purposes, and a confidence in the principles which I bring 
with me into this arduous service. 

To cherish peace and friendly intercourse with all na- 
tions, having correspondent dispositions ; to maintain sin- 


cere neutrality towards belligerent nations ; to prefer, in all 
cases, amicable discussion and reasonable accommodation 
of differences, to a decision of them by an appeal to arms ; 
to exclude foreign intrigues and foreign partialities, so de- 
grading to all countries, and so baneful to free ones j to 
foster a spirit of independence ; too just to invade the 
rights of others ; too proud to surrender our own ; too 
liberal to indulge unworthy prejudices ourselves, and too 
elevated not to look down upon them in others ; to hold 
the union of the States as the basis of their peace and hap- 
piness ; to support the Constitution, which is the cement 
of the Union, as well in its limitations as in its authorities; 
to respect the rights and authorities reserved to the States 
and to the people, as equally incorporated with, and essen- 
tial to the success of the general system ; to avoid the 
slightest interference with the rights of conscience, or the 
functions of religion, so wisely exempted from civil juris- 
diction ; to preserve, to their full energy, the other salutary 
provisions in behalf of private and personal rights, and of 
the freedom of the press ; to observe economy in public ex- 
penditures; to liberate the public resources by an honora- 
ble discharge of the public debts ; to keep within the re- 
quisite limits a standing military force, always remembering 
that an armed and trained militia is the firmest bulwark of 
republics ; that without standing armies their liberty can 
never be in danger, nor, with large ones, safe ; to promote, 
by authorized means, improvements friendly to agriculture, 
to manufactures, and to external as well as internal com- 
merce ; to favor, in like manner, the advancement of science 
and the diffusion of information, as the best aliment to true 
liberty ; to carry on the benevolent plans which have been 
so meritoriously applied to the conversion of our aboriginal 
neighbors, from the degradation and wretchedness of savage 
life, to a participation of the improvements of which the 
human mind and manners are susceptible in a civilized 


state : as far as sentiments and intentions such as these can 
aid the fulfilment of my duty, they will be a resource which 
cannot fail me. 

It is my good fortune, moreover, to have the path in 
which I am to tread, lighted by examples of illustrious ser- 
vices, successfully rendered in the most trying difficulties, by 
those who have marched before me. Of those of my imme- 
diate predecessor, it might least become me here to speak — 
I may, however, be pardoned for not suppressing the sympa- 
thy with which my heart is full, in the rich reward he enjoys 
in the benedictions of a beloved country, gratefully be- 
stowed for exalted talents, zealously devoted through a long 
career to the advancement of its highest interest and happi- 
ness. But the source to which I look for the aids which 
alone can supply my deficiencies, is in the well-tried intelli- 
gence and virtue of my fellow-citizens, and in the councils 
of those representing them in the other departments associ- 
ated in the care of the national interests. In these my con- 
fidence will, under every difficulty, be best placed ; next to 
that which we have all been encouraged to feel in the guar- 
dianship and guidance of that Almighty Being, whose 
power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have 
been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising Republic, 
and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude 
for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best 
hopes for the future. 




September IT, 1796. 

Friends and Fellow-citizens : 

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer 
the executive government of the United States being not 
far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts 
must be employed in designating the person who is to be 


clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, 
especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression. 
of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the 
resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among 
the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made. 

I beg you at the same time, to do me the justice to be 
assured that this resolution has not been taken without a 
strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the 
relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country ; and 
that, in withdrawing the tender of service which silence, in 
my situation, might imply, I am influenced by no diminu- 
tion of zeal for your future interests, no deficiency of grate- 
ful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a 
full conviction that the step is compatible with both. 

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office 
to which your suffrages have twice called me, have been a 
uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and 
to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I con- 
stantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my 
power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty 
to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I have 
been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to 
do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the 
preparation of an address to declare it to you ; but mature 
reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our 
affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of 
persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon 
the idea. 

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well 
as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination in- 
compatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety ; and 
am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my 
services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, 
you will not disapprove my determination to retire. 

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous 


trust were explained 01 the proper occasion. In the dis- 
charge of this trust, I will only say, that I have with good 
intentions contributed tOWftrda the Organization and admin- 
istration of the government the best exertions of which a 
very fallible judgment was capable. Not anceosciona m 
the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience, 

in my own eyes — perhaps still more in the eyes of others — 

has strengthened Ihe motives to diffidence of myself ; ami 

every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me, 
more and more, that the shade of retirement is as oecessary 
to me as it will he welcome. Satisfied that if any eireum- 
stances have given peculiar value t<> my services, tiny W1 PJ 

temporary, I hare the consolation to helmve, that while 
choice and prudence invite me to quit the political BCene, 
patriotism does not forbid it. 

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to ter- 
minate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit 
me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of grati- 
tude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors 
it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confi- 
dence with which it has supported me; and for the opportuni- 
ties I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attach- 
ment, by services faithful and persevering, though in useful- 
ness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our 
country from these services, let it always be remembered to 
your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, 
that, under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in 
every direction, were liable to mislead ; amidst appearances 
sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discou- 
raging; in situations in which, not unfrequently, want of 
success has countenanced the spirit of criticism — the con- 
stancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, 
and a guarantee of the plans, by which they were effected. 
Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with 
me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows, 


that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its 
beneficence ; that your union and brotherly affection may 
be perpetual ; that the free Constitution, which is the work 
of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its admin- 
istration, in every department, maybe stamped with wisdom 
and virtue ; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these 
States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete, 
by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this 
blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending 
it to the applause, the affection, and the adoption of every 
natiou which is yet a stranger to it. 

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop ; but a solicitude for your 
welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the appre- 
hension of danger natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an 
occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contempla- 
tion, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sen- 
timents, which are the result of much reflection, of no in- 
considerable observation, and which appear to me all-im- 
portant to the permanency of your felicity as a people. 
These will be afforded to you with the more freedom, as you 
can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting 
friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his 
counsel ; nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your 
indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not 
dissimilar occasion. 

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament 
of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to 
fortify or confirm the attachment. 

The unity of government, which constitutes you one 
people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so ; for it is a 
main pillar in the edifice of your real independence — the 
support of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad, of 
your safety, of your prosperity, of that very liberty which 
you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee, that from 
different causes and from different quarters, much pains will 


be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds 
the conviction of tin's truth ; as this is the point in your po- 
litical fortress against which the batteries of internal and 
external enemies will be most confidently and actively 
(though often covertly and insidiously) directed — it is of 
infinite moment that you should properly estimate the im- 
mense value of your national union to your collective and 
individual happiness ; that you should cherish a cordial, 
habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming 
yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of 
your political safety and prosperity ; watching for its pre- 
servation with jealous anxiety ; discountenancing whatever 
may suggest even a suspicion that it can, in any event, be 
abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawn- 
ing of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country 
from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link 
together the various parts. 

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and in- 
terest. Citizens by birth or choice, of a common country, 
that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The 
name of American, which belongs to you in your national 
capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, 
more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. 
With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, 
manners, habits, and political principles. You have, in a 
common cause, fought and triumphed together ; the inde- 
pendence and liberty you possess are the work of joint coun- 
sels and joint efforts, of common dangers, sufferings, and 

But these considerations, however powerfully they address 
themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by 
those which apply more immediately to your interest ; here 
every portion of our country finds the most commanding mo- 
tives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the 


The North, in an unrestrained intercourse w : th the South, 
protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds, 
in the productions of the latter, great additional resources 
of maritime and commercial enterprise, and precious mate- 
rials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the same 
intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the North, sees its 
agriculture grow, and its commerce expand. Turning partly 
into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its 
particular navigation invigorated; and while it contributes, 
in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass 
of national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of 
a maritime strength to which itself is unequally adapted. 
The East, in like intercourse with the West, already finds, 
and in the progressive improvement of interior communica- 
tion, by land and water, will more and more find, a valuable 
vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or 
manufactures at home. The West derives from the East 
supplies requisite to its growth and comfort ; and what is 
perhaps of still greater consequence, it must, of necessity, 
owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own 
productions, to the weight, influence, and the future mari- 
time strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by 
an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any 
other tenure by which the West can hold this essential ad- 
vantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, 
or from an apostate and unnatural connection with any 
foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious. 

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an imme- 
diate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined 
cannot fail to find, in the united mass of means and efforts, 
greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater 
security from external danger, a less frequent interruption 
of their peace by foreign nations ; and what is of inestimable 
value, they must derive from union an exemption from those 
broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently 


afflict neighboring countries, not tied together by the same 
government; which their own rival>hips alone would he 
sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliane 

attachments, and intrigues, would stimulate and imbitter. 
Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those «>^ 
grown military establishments, which, under any form uf 
government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to 
be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty ; in 
this sense it is that your union ought to be considered at A 
main prop of your liberty, and that the love of one ought to 
endear to you the preservation of the other. 

These considerations speak a persuasive language to 
every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continu- 
ance of the Union as a primary object of patriotic desire. 
Is there a doubt, whether a common government can embrace 
so large a sphere ? Let experience solve it. To listen to 
mere speculation, in such a case, were criminal. We are 
authorized to hope, that a proper organization of the whole, 
with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective 
subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. 
It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such 
powerful and obvious motives to Union, affecting all parts 
of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated 
its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust 
the patriotism of those, who, in any quarter, may endeavor 
to weaken its bands. 

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, 
it occurs, as a matter of serious concern, that any ground 
should have been furnished for characterizing parties by 
geographical discriminations — Northern and Southern — 
Atlantic and Western : whence designing men may endeavor 
to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local in- 
terests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire 
influence within particular districts, is to misrepresent the 
opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield 


yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart-burn- 
ings which spring from these misrepresentations ; they tend 
to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound 
together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our 
western country have lately had a useful lesson on „ this 
head ; they have seen in the negotiation by the Executive, 
and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the 
treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that 
event throughout the United States, a decisive proof how 
unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them, of 
a policy in the general government, and in the Atlantic 
States, unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Missis- 
sippi : they have been witnesses to the formation of two 
treaties — that with Great Britain, and that with Spain, 
which secures to them everything they could desire in re- 
spect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their 
prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the pre- 
servation of these advantages on the Union by which they 
were procured ? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those 
advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their 
brethren, and connect them with aliens ? 

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a gov- 
ernment for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, how- 
ever strict, between the parts, can be an adequate substitute ; 
they must inevitably experience the infractions and inter- 
ruptions which all alliances, in all time, have experienced. 
Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon 
your first essay, by the adoption of a Constitution of gov- 
ernment better calculated than your former for an intimate 
Union, and for the efficacious management of your common 
concerns. This government, the offspring of our own 
choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full inves- 
tigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its 
principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security 
with energy, an 1 containing within itself a provision for its 


own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and 
your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with 
its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined 
by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of 
our political systems, is the right of the people to make and 
to alter their constitutions of government; but the Consti- 
tution, which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit 
and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory 
upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the 

people to establish government, presuppose* the duty of 

every individual to obey the established government 

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combi- 
nations and associations, under whatever plausible charac- 
ter, with the real design to direct, control, counteract or 
awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted 
authorities, are destructive to this fundamental principle, 
and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to 
give it an artificial and extraordinary force, to put, in the 
place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a 
party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of 
the community ; and, according to the alternate triumphs 
of different parties, to make the public administration the 
mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of 
faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome 
plans, digested by common counsels, and modified by mu- 
tual interests. 

However combinations or associations of the above de- 
scription may now and then answer popular ends, they are 
likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent 
engines by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men 
will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to 
usurp for themselves the reins of government ; destroying, 
afterwards, the very engines which had lifted them to unjust 

Towards the preservation of your government, and the 


permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not 
only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions 
to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with 
care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however 
specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to 
effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which 
will impair the energy of the system, and thus to under- 
mine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the 
changes to which you may be invited, remember that time 
and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character 
of governments, as of other human institutions ; that ex- 
perience is the surest standard by which to test the real ten- 
dency of the existing Constitution of a country ; that fa- 
cility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and 
opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless va- 
riety of hypothesis and opinion ; and remember, especially, 
that for the efficient management of your common interests, 
in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much 
vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty, 
is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a govern- 
ment, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its 
surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, 
where the government is too feeble to withstand the en- 
terprises of faction, to confine each member of the society 
within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all 
in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person 
and property. 

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in 
the State, with particular reference to the founding of them 
on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more 
comprehensive view, and warn yor., in the most solemn 
manner, against the baneful effects of the spirit of party 

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, 
having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. 


It exists under different shapes, in all governments, more or 
less stifled, controlled, or repressed ; but in those of the 
popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly 
their worst enemy. 

The alternate domination of one faction over another, 
sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissen- 
sion, which, in different ages and countries, has perpetrated 
the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. 
But this leads, at length, to a more formal and permanent 
despotism. The disorders and miseries Which remit, gradu- 
ally incline the minds of men to seek security and repose ir. 
the absolute power of an individual ; and, sooner or later 
the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more 
fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the 
purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty. 

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, 
(which, nevertheless, ought not to be entirely out of sight,) 
the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party 
are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise 
people to discourage and restrain it. 

It tends always to distract the public councils, and enfeeble 
the public administration. It agitates the commmunity 
with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms ; kindles the 
animosity of one part against another ; foments, occasion- 
ally, riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign 
influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to 
the government itself, through the channels of party pas- 
sions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are sub- 
jected to the policy and will of another. 

There is an opinion that parties, in free countries, are 
useful checks upon the administration of the government, 
and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This, within 
certain limits, is probably true; and in governments of a 
monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if 
not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of 


the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a 
spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, 
it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for 
every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger 
of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, 
to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it 
demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a 
flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume. 

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking, in a 
free country, should inspire caution in those intrusted with 
its administration, to confine themselves within their respec- 
tive constitutional spheres, avoiding, in the exercise of the 
powers of one department, to encroach upon another. The 
spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of 
all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the 
form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of 
that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which pre- 
dominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of 
the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal 
checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and 
distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting 
each the guardian of the public weal, against iuvasions by 
the others, has been evinced by experiments, ancient and 
modern ; some of them in our own country, and under our 
own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to 
institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distri- 
bution or modification of the constitutional powers be, in 
any particular, wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment 
in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there 
be no change by usurpation ; for though this, in one instance, 
may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon 
by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent 
must always greatly overbalance, in permanent evil, any 
partial or transient benefit which the use can, at any time, 


Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political 
prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. 
In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, 
who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human 
happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and 
citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, 
ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not 
trace all their connections with private and public felicity. 
Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, 
for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation 
desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation 
in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the 
supposition, that morality can be maintained without reli- 
gion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined 
education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and expe- 
rience both forbid us to expect that national morality car 
prevail in exclusion of religious principles. 

It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a neces- 
sary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, 
extends with more or less force to every species of free 
government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look 
with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of 
the fabric ? 

Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, insti- 
tutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In propor- 
tion as the structure of a government gives force to public 
opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be en- 

As a very important source of strength and security, 
cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to 
use it as sparingly as possible ;• avoiding occasions of ex- 
pense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely 
disbursements to prepare for danger, frequently prevent 
much greater disbursements to repel it ; avoiding, likewise, 
the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions 


of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to 
discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occa- 
sioned ; not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the bur- 
den which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of 
these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is 
necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facili- 
tate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential 
that you should practically bear in mind, that towards the 
payment of debts there must be revenue ; that to have reve- 
nue there must be taxes ; that no taxes can be devised, 
which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant ; that 
the intrinsic embarrassment inseparable from the selection 
of the proper objects, (which is always a choice of difficul- 
ties,) ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction 
of the conduct of the Government in making it, and for a 
spirit of acquiescence in the measures for dbtaining revenue, 
which the public exigencies may at any time dictate. 

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations ; cul- 
tivate peace and harmony with all ; religion and morality 
enjoin this conduct ; and can it be that good policy does 
not equally enjoin it ? It will be worthy of a free, enligh- 
tened, and, at no distant period, a great nation, to give to 
mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a 
people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. 
Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the 
fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary ad- 
vantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? 
Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent 
felicity of a nation with its virtue ? The experiment, at 
least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles 
human nature. Alas ! is it rendered impossible by its 
vices ? 

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential 
than that permanent inveterate antipathies against particular 
nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be 


excluded ; and that, in place of them, jnst and amicable 
feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which 
indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual 
fondness, is, in some degree, a slave. It is a slave to its 
animosity or to its affection ; either of which is sufficient to 
lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in 
one nation against another, disposes each more readily to 
offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of 
umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when acciden- 
tal or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent 
collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The 
nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes 
impels to war the Government, contrary to the best calcula- 
tions of policy. The Government sometimes participates 
in the national j>ropensity, and adopts, through passion, 
what reason would reject ; at other times it makes the ani- 
mosity of the nation, subservient to projects, of hostility, 
instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and per- 
nicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the 
liberty, of nations has been the victim. 

So, likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation to 
another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the fa- 
vorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary com- 
mon interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, 
and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the 
former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the 
latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It 
leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges 
denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation 
making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what 
ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill- 
will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom 
equal privileges are withheld ; and it gives to ambitious, 
corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to 
the favorite nation) facility to betray, or sacrifice the in- 


terest of their own country, without odium ; sometimes even 
with popularity ; gilding with the appearance of a virtuous 
sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public 
opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or 
foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation. 

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such 
attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlight- 
ened and independent patriot. How many opportunities 
do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice 
the art of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence 
or awe the public councils ? Such an attachment of a small 
or weak, toward a great and powerful nation, dooms the 
former to be the satellite of the latter. 

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure 
you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free 
people ought to be constantly awake ; since history and ex- 
perience prove that foreign influence is one of the most bane- 
ful foes of republican government. But that jealousy, to be 
useful, must be impartial ; else it becomes the instrument 
of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense 
against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and 
excessive dislike for another, cause those whom they actuate 
to see danger only on one side, and serve to vail, and even 
second, the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots, 
who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to 
become suspected and odious ; while its tools and dupes 
usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surren- 
der their interests. 

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign na- 
tions is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with 
them as little political connection as possible. So far as we 
have formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect 
good faith. Here let us stop. 

Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have 
none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be en- 


gaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are es- 
sentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must 
be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in 
the ordinary vicissitudes of politics, or the ordinary combi- 
nations and collisions of her friendships or enmities. 

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us 
to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, un- 
der an efficient government, the period is not far off when 
we may defy material injury from external annoyance ; when 
we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we 
may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected ; 
when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making 
acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us 
provocation ; when we may choose peace or war, as our in- 
terest, guided by justice, shall counsel. 

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation ? 
Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground ? Why, 
by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, 
entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European 
ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice ? 

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances 
with any portion of the foreign world ; so far, I mean, as 
we are now at liberty to do it ; for let me not be understood 
as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. 
I hold the maxim no less applicable to ptiblic than to private 
affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, 
therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine 
seuse. But iu my opinion, it is unnecessary, and would be 
unwise, to extend them. 

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable estab- 
lishments, in a respectable defensive posture, we may safely 
trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies. 

Harmony, and a liberal intercourse with all nations, are 
recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even 
our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial 


hand ; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors 01 
preferences ; consulting the natural course of things ; dif- 
fusing and diversifying, by gentle means, the streams of 
commerce, but forcing nothing ; establishing, with powers 
so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define 
the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government 
to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best 
that present circumstances and mutual opinions will permit, 
but temporary, and liable to be, from time to time, aban- 
doned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dic- 
tate; constantly keeping in view, that it is folly in one 
nation to look for disinterested favors from another ; that 
it must pay, with a portion of its independence, for whatever 
it may accept under that character ; that by such acceptance 
it may place itself in the condition of having given equiva- 
lents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with 
ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater 
error than to expect, or calculate upon, real favors, from 
nation to nation. It is an illusion which experience must 
cure, which a just pride ought to discard. 

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an 
old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make 
the strong and lasting impression I could wish ; that they 
will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent 
our nation from funning the course which has hitherto 
marked the destiny of nations ; but if I may even flatter 
myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, 
some occasional good ; that they may now and then recur 
to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the 
mischiefs of foreign intrigues, to guard against the impos- 
tures of pretended patriotism ; this hope will be a full 
recompense for the solicitude for your welfare by which 
they have been dictated. 

How far, in the discharge of my official duties, I have 
been guided by the principles which have been delineated, 


the public records, and other evidences of my conduct, must 
witness to you and the world. To myself, the assurance of 
my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself 
to be guided by them. 

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my 
proclamation of the 22d of April, 1793, is the index to my 
plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and that of 
your representatives in both houses of Congress, the spirit 
of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced 
by any attempts to deter or divert me from it. 

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best 
lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, 
under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, 
and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral posi- 
tion. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should 
depend upon me, to maintain it with moderation, perse- 
verance, and firmness. 

The considerations which respect the right to hold this 
conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I 
will only observe, that, according to my understanding of 
the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of 
the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all. 

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, 
without anything more, from the obligation which justice 
and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it 
is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace 
and amity towards other nations. 

The inducements of interest, for observing that conduct, 
will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. 
With me, a predominant motive has been to endeavor to 
gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent 
institutions, and to progress, without interruption, to that 
degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to 
give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own for- 


Though in reviewing the incidents of my administration, 
I am unconscious of intentional error ; I am, nevertheless, 
too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I 
may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, 
I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the 
evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me 
the hope, that my country will never cease to view them 
with indulgence ; and that, after forty-five years of my life 
dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of 
incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself 
must soon be to the mansions of rest. 

Relying on its kindness in this, as in other things, and 
actuated by that fervent love towards it which is so natural 
to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his 
progenitors for several generations, I anticipate, with plea- 
sing expectation, that retreat in which I promise myself to 
realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in 
the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good 
laws under a free Government — the ever favorite object of 
my heart — and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual 
cares, labors, and dangers. 

United States, September 11th, It 96. 

Following the example of Washington, General Jackson 
issued a Farewell Address to the people of the United States, 
at his retiring from the Presidency ; and, like that of Wash- 
ington, it was principally devoted to the danger of disunion, 
and to the preservation of harmony and good feeling be- 
tween the different sections of the country. General Wash- 
ington only had to contemplate the danger of disunion, as 
a possibility, and as an event of future contingency ; General 
Jackson had to confront it as a present, actual, subsisting 
danger, and therefore published the following 



Fellow-citizens. — Being about to retire finally from 
public life, I beg leave to offer you my grateful thanks fur 
the many proofs of kindness and confidence which I have re- 
ceived at your hands. It has been my fortune, in the dis- 
charge of public duties, civil and military, frequently to 
have found myself in difficult and trying situations, where 
prompt decision and energetic action were necessary, and 
where the interest of the country required that high respon- 
sibilities should be fearlessly encountered ; and it is with 
the deepest emotions of gratitude that I acknowledge the 
continued and unbroken confidence with which you have 
sustained me in every trial. My public life has been a long 
one, and I cannot hope that it has, at all times, been free 
from errors. But I have the consolation of knowing that, 
if mistakes have been committed, they have not seriously 
injured the country I so anxiously endeavored to serve ; and 
at the moment when I surrender my last public trust, I 
I leave this great people prosperous and happy, in the full 
enjoyment of liberty and peace, and honored and respected 
by every nation of the world. 

If my humble efforts have, in any degree, contributed to 
preserve to you these blessings, I have been more than re- 
warded by the honors you have heaped upon me, and, above 
all, by the generous confidence with which you have sup- 
ported me in every peril, and with which you have continued 
to animate and cheer my path to the closing hour of my 
political life. The time has now come, when advanced age 
and a broken frame warn me to retire from public concerns ; 
but the recollection of the many favors you have bestowed 
upon me is engraven upon my heart, and I have felt that I 
could not part from your service without making this public 
acknowledgment of the gratitude I owe you. And if I use 


the occasion to offer to you the counsels of age and expe- 
rience, you will, I trust, receive them with the same indul- 
gent kindness which you have so often extended to me ; 
and will, at least, see in them an earnest desire to perpetu- 
ate, in this favored land, the blessings of liberty and equal 

We have now lived almost fifty years under the constitu- 
tion framed by the sages and patriots of the Revolution. 
The conflicts in which the nations of Europe were engaged 
during a great part of this period, the spirit in which they 
waged war against each other, and our intimate com- 
mercial connections with every part of the civilized world, 
rendered it a time of much difficulty for the Government of 
the United States. We have had our seasons of peace and 
of war, with all the evils which precede or follow a state of 
hostility with powerful nations. We encountered these 
trials with our constitution yet in its infancy, and under the 
disadvantages which a new and untried government must 
always feel when it is called upon to put forth its whole 
strength, without the lights of experience to guide it, or the 
weight of precedents to justify its measures. But we have 
passed triumphantly through all these difficulties. Our 
Constitution is no longer a doubtful experiment ; and, at 
the end of nearly half a century, we find that it has pre- 
served unimpaired the liberties of the people, secured the 
rights of property, and that our country has improved and 
is flourishing beyond any former example in the history of 

In our domestic concerns there is everything to encour- 
age us ; and, if you are true to yourselves, nothing can 
impede your march to the highest point of national pros- 
perity. The States which had so long been retarded in 
their improvement by the Indian tribes residing in the 
midst of them, are at length relieved from the evil j and 
this unhappy race — the original dwellers in our land — a?e 


now placed in a situation where we may well hope that they 
will share in the blessings of civilization, and be saved from 
that degradation and destruction to which they were rapidly 
hastening while they remained in the States ; and while 
the safety and comfort of our own citizens have been greatly 
promoted by their removal, the philanthropist will rejoice 
that the romnant of that ill-fated race has been at length 
placed beyond the reach of injury or oppression, and that 
the paternal care of the general government will hereafter 
watch over them and protect them. 

If we turn to our relations with foreign powers, wc find 
our condition equally gratifying. Actuated by the sincere 
desire to do justice to every nation, and to preserve the 
blessings of peace, our intercourse with them has been con- 
ducted on the part of this government in the spirit of frank- 
ness, and I take pleasure in saying that it has generally 
been met in a corresponding temper. Difficulties of old 
standing have been surmounted by friendly discussion and 
the mutual desire to be just ; and the claims of our citi- 
zens, which had been long withheld, have at length been 
acknowledged and adjusted, and satisfactory arrangements 
made for their final payment ; and, with a limited, and, I 
trust, a temporary exception, our relations with every for- 
eign power are now of the most friendly character — our 
commerce continually expanding, and our flag respected in 
every quarter of the world. 

These cheering and grateful prospects, and these mul- 
tiplied favors, we owe, under Providence, to the adoption 
of the federal Constitution. It is no longer a question 
whether this great country can remain happily united, and 
flourish, under our present form of government. Experi- 
ence, the unerring test of all human undertakings, has 
shown the wisdom and foresight of those who formed it ; 
and has proved, that, in the union of these States, there 
is a sure foundation for the brightest hopes of freedom, and 


for the happiness of the people. At every hazard, and by 
every sacrifice, this Union must be preserved. 

The necessity of watching with jealous anxiety for the 
preservation of the Union, was earnestly pressed upon his 
fellow-citizens, by the Father of his Country, in his farewell 
address. He has there told us, that, "while experience 
shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will 
always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who, in 
any quarter, may endeavor to weaken its bands ;" and he 
has cautioned us, in the strongest terms, against the forma- 
tion of parties on geographical discriminations, as one of 
the means which might disturb our Union, and to which de- 
signing men would be likely to resort. 

The lessons contained in this invaluable legacy of Wash- 
ington to his countrymen, should be cherished in the heart 
of every citizen to the latest generation ; and, perhaps, at 
no period of time could they be more usefully remembered 
than at the present moment. For, when we look upon the 
scenes that are passing around us, and dwell upon the 
pages of his parting address, his paternal counsels would 
seem to be not merely the offspring of wisdom and fore- 
sight, but the voice of prophecy, foretelling events, and 
warning us of the evil to come. Forty years have passed 
since this imperishable document was given to his country- 
men. The federal Constitution was then regarded by him 
as an experiment, and he so speaks of it in his address, but 
an experiment upon the success of which the best hopes of 
his country depended ; and we all know that he was pre- 
pared to lay down his life, if necessary, to secure to it a 
full and a fair trial. The trial has been made. It has suc- 
ceeded beyond the proudest hopes of those who framed it. 
Every quarter of this widely extended nation has felt its 
blessings, and shared in the general prosperity produced by 
its adoption. But, amid this general prosperity and splen- 
did success, the dangers of which he warned us are becom- 


ing every day more evident, and the signs of evil are 
sufficiently apparent to awaken the deepest anxiety in the 
bosom of the patriot. We behold systematic efforts pub- 
licly made to sow the seeds of discord between different' 
parts of the United States, and to place party divisions di- 
rectly upon geographical distinctions ; to excite the South 
against the North, and the North against the South, and to 
force into the controversy the most delicate and exciting 
topics — topics upon which it is impossible that a large por- 
tion of the Union can ever speak without strong emotion. 
Appeals, too, are constantly made to sectional interests, in 
order to influence the election of the Chief Magistrate, as if 
it were desired that he should favor a particular quarter of 
the country, instead of fulfilling the duties of his station 
with impartial justice to all ; and the possible dissolution 
of the Union has at length become an ordinary and familiar 
subject of discussion. Has the warning voice of Washing- 
ton been forgotten ? or have designs already been formed 
to sever the Union ? Let it not be supposed that I impute 
to all of those who have taken an active part in these unwise 
and unprofitable discussions a want of patriotism or of pub- 
lic virtue. The honorable feeling of State pride, and local 
attachments, find a place in the bosoms of the most enlight- 
ened and pure. But while such men are conscious of their 
own integrity and honesty of purpose, they ought never to 
forget that the citizens of other States are their political 
brethren; and that, however mistaken they may be in theii 
views, the great body of them are equally honest and upright 
with themselves. Mutual suspicions and reproaches may 
in time create mutual hostility, and artful and designing 
men will always be found, who are ready to foment these 
fatal divisions, and to inflame the natural jealousies of diffe- 
rent sections of the country. The history of the world ia 
full of such examples, and especially the history of re 


What have yoti to gain by division and dissension ? De- 
lude not yourselves with the belief that a breach once made 
may be afterwards repaired. If the Union is once severed, 
the line of separation will grow wider and wider, and the 
controversies which are now debated and settled in the halls 
of legislation will then be tried in fields of battle, and deter- 
mined by the sword. Neither should you deceive yourselves 
with the hope that the first line of separation would be the 
permanent one, and that nothing but harmony and concord 
would be found in the new associations formed upon the 
dissolution of this Union. Local interests would still be 
found there, and unchastened ambition. And if the recol- 
lection of common dangers, in which the people of these 
United States stood side by side against the common foe ; 
the memory of victories won by their united valor ; the 
prosperity and happiness they have enjoyed under the 
present Constitution ; the proud name they bear as citizens 
of this great republic: if all these recollections and proofs 
of common interest are not strong enough to bind us to- 
gether as one people, what tie will hold united the new 
divisions of empire, when these bonds have been broken and 
this Union dissevered. The first line of separation would 
not last for a single generation ; new fragments would be 
torn off; new leaders would spring up ; and this great and 
glorious republic would soon be broken into a multitude of 
petty States, without commerce, without credit; jealous of 
one another ; armed for mutual agression, loaded with taxes 
to pay armies and leaders ; seeking aid against each other 
from foreign powers ; insulted and trampled upon by the 
nations of Europe, until harassed with conflicts, and humbled 
and debased in spirit, they would be ready to submit to the 
absolute dominion of any military adventurer, and to sur- 
render their liberty for the sake of repose. It is impossible 
to look on the consequences that would inevitably follow 
the destruction of this government, and not feel indignant 


when wc hear cold calculations about the value of the Union, 
and have so constantly before us a line of conduct so well 
calculated to weaken its ties. 

There is too much at stake to allow pride or passion to 
influence your decision. Never for a moment believe that 
the great body of the citizens of any State or States can de- 
liberately intend to do wrong. They may, under the influ- 
ence of temporary excitement or misguided opinions, commit 
mistakes ; they may be misled for a time by the suggestions 
of self-interest ; but, in a community so enlightened and 
patriotic as the people of the United States, argument will 
soon make them sensible of their errors ; and when convinced, 
they will be ready to repair them. If they have no higher 
or better motives to govern them, they will at least perceive 
that their own interest requires them to be just to others, 
as they hope to receive justice at their hands. 

But, in order to maintain the Union unimpaired, it is 
absolutely necessary that the laws passed by the constituted 
authorities should be faithfully executed in every part of the 
country, and that every good citizen should, at all times, 
stand ready to put down, with the combined force of the 
nation, every attempt at unlawful resistance, under whatever 
pretext it may be made, or whatever shape it may assume. 
Unconstitutional or oppressive laws may, no doubt, be 
passed by Congress, either from erroneous views, or the 
want of due consideration ; if they are within the reach of 
judicial authority, the remedy is easy and peaceful ; and if, 
from the character of the law, it is an abuse of power not 
within the control of the judiciary, then free discussion and 
calm appeals to reason and to the justice of the people will 
not fail to redress the wrong. But until the law shall be 
declared void by the courts, or repealed by Congress, no 
individual, or combination of individuals, can be justified 
in forcibly resisting its executior. It is impossible that 
any government can continue to exist upon any other prin- 


ciples. It would cease to be a government, and be un- 
worthy of the name, if it had not the power to enforce the 
execution of its own laws within its own sphere of action. 

It is true that cases may be imagined disclosing such a 
settled purpose of usurpation and oppression, on the part 
of the government, as would justify an appeal to arms. 
These, however, are extreme cases, which we have no reason 
to apprehend in a government where the power is in the 
hands of a patriotic people ; and no citizen who loves his 
country would, in any case whatever, resort to forcible re- 
sistance, unless he clearly saw that the time had come when 
a freeman should prefer death to submission ; for if such a 
struggle is once begun, and the citizens of one section of 
the country are arrayed in arms against those of another in 
doubtful conflict, let the battle result as it may, there will 
be an end of the Union, and with it an end to the hopes of 
freedom. The victory of the injured would not secure to 
them the blessings of liberty ; it would avenge their wrongs, 
but they would themselves share in the common ruin. 

But the Constitution cannot be maintained, nor the Union 
preserved, in opposition to public feeling, by the mere ex- 
ertion of the coercive powers confided to the general govern- 
ment. The foundations must be laid in the affections of the 
people ; in the security it gives to life, liberty, character, 
and property, in every quarter of the country ; and in the 
fraternal attachment which the citizens of the several States 
bear to one another, as members of one political family, mu- 
tually contributing to promote the happiness of each other. 
Hence, the citizens of every State should studiously avoid 
everything calculated to wound the sensibility or offend the 
just pride of the people of other States ; and they should 
frown upon any proceedings within their own borders likely 
to disturb the tranquillity of their political brethren in other 
portions of the Union. In a country so extensive as the 
United States, and with pursuits so varied, the internal regu- 


lations of the several States must frequently differ from one 
another in important particulars ; and this difference is una- 
voidably increased by the varying principles upon which the 
American colonies were originally planted ; principles which 
had taken deep root in their social relations before the Revo- 
lution, and therefore of necessity influencing their policy since 
they became free and independent States. But each State 
has the unquestionable right to regulate its own internal 
concerns according to its own pleasure ; and while it does 
not interfere with the rights of the people of other States, 
or the rights of the Union, every State must be the sole judge 
of the measures proper to secure the safety of its citizens, 
and promote their happiness; and all efforts on the part of 
people of other States to cast odium upon their institutions, 
and all measures calculated to disturb their rights of property 
or to put iu jeopardy their peace and internal tranquillity, 
are indirect opposition to the spirit in wliieli the Union was 
formed, and must endanger its safety. Motives of philan- 
thropy may be assigned for this unwarrantable interference ; 
and weak men may persuade themselves for a moment that 
they are laboring in the cause of humanity, aud asserting 
the rights of the human race ; but every one, upon sober 
reflection, will see that nothing but mischief can come from 
these improper assaults upon the feelings and rights of 
others. Rest assured that the men found busy in this work 
of discord are not worthy of your confidence, and deserve 
your strongest reprobation. 

Iu the legislation of Congress, also, and in every measure 
of the general government, justice to every portion of the 
United States should be faithfully observed. No free gov- 
ernment can stand without virtue in the people, and a lofty 
spirit of patriotism ; and if the sordid feelings of mere sel- 
fishness shall usurp the place which ought to be filled by 
public spirit, the legislation of Congress will soon be con- 
verted into a scramble for personal and sectional advantages. 


Under our free institutions, the citizens of every quarter of 
our country are capable of attaining a high degree of 
prosperity and happiness, without seeking to profit them- 
selves at the expense of others ; and every such attempt 
must in the end fail to succeed, for the people in every part 
of the United States are too enlightened not to understand 
their own rights and interests, and to detect and defeat every 
effort to gain undue advantages over them ; and when such 
designs are discovered, it naturally provokes resentments 
which cannot always be easily allayed. Justice, full and 
ample justice, to every portion of the United States, should 
be the ruling principle of every freeman, and should guide 
the deliberations of every public body, whether it be State 
or national. 

It is well known that there have always been those 
amongst us who wish to enlarge the powers of the general 
government ; and experience would seem to indicate that 
there is a tendency on the part of this government to over- 
step the boundaries marked out for it by the Constitution. 
Its legitimate authority is abundantly sufficient for all the 
purposes for which it was created ; and its powers being 
expressly enumerated, there can be no justification for 
claiming anything beyond them. Every attempt to exercise 
power beyond these limits should be promptly and firmly 
opposed. For one evil example will lead to other measures 
still more mischievous ; and if the principle of constructive 
powers, or supposed advantages, or temporary circum- 
stances, shall ever be permitted to justify the assumption of 
a power not given by the Constitution, the general govern- 
ment will before long absorb all the powers of legislation, 
and you will have, in effect, but one consolidated govern- 
ment. From the extent of our country, its diversified 
interests, different pursuits, and different habits, it is too 
obvious for argument, that a single consolidated govern- 
ment would be wholly inadequate to watch over and protect 


its interests; and every friend of our free institutions should 
be always prepared to maintain unimpaired aud iu full vigor 
the rights and sovereignty of the States, and to confine the 
action of the general government strictly to the sphere of 
its appropriate duties. 

There is, perhaps, no one of the powers conferred on the 
federal government so liable to abuse as the taxing power. 
The most productive aud convenient sources of revenue 
were necessarily given to it, that it might be able to per- 
form the important duties imposed upon it ; and the taxes 
which it lays upon commerce being concealed from the real 
payer in the price of the article, they do not so readily 
attract the attention of the people as smaller sums demanded 
from them directly by the tax-gatherer. But the tax im- 
posed on goods enhances by so much the price of the com- 
modity to the consumer ; and, as many of these duties are 
imposed on articles of necessity, which are daily used by 
the great body of the people, the money raised by these 
imposts is drawn from their pockets. Congress has no 
right, under the Constitution, to take money from the peo- 
ple, unless it is required to execute some one of the specific 
powers intrusted to the government ; and if they raise more 
than is necessary for such purposes, it is an abuse of the 
power of taxation, and unjust and oppressive. It may, 
indeed, happen that the revenue will sometimes exceed the 
amount anticipated when the taxes were laid. When, how- 
ever, this is ascertained, it is easy to reduce them, and, in 
such a case, it is unquestionably the duty of the govern- 
ment to reduce them ; for no circumstances can justify it in 
assuming a power not given to it by the Constitution, nor 
in taking away the money of the people when it is not 
needed for the legitimate wants of the government. 

Plain as these principles appear to be, you will yet find 
there is a constant effort to induce the general government 
to go beyond the limits of its taxing power, and to impose 


unnecessary burdens upon the people. Many powerful 
interests are continually at work to procure heavy duties on 
commerce, and to swell the revenue beyond the real necessi- 
ties of the public service ; and the country has already felt 
the injurious effects of their combined influence. They 
succeeded in obtaining a tariff of duties bearing most op- 
pressively on the agricultural and laboring classes of society, 
and producing a revenue that could not be usefully employed 
within the range of the powers conferred upon Congress ; 
and, in order to fasten upon the people this unjust and 
unequal system of taxation, extravagant schemes of inter- 
nal improvements were got up in various quarters, to squan- 
der the money and to purchase support. Thus one uncon- 
stitutional measure was intended to be upheld by another, 
and the abuse of the power of taxation was to be main- 
tained by usurping the power of expending the money in 
internal improvements. You cannot have forgotten the 
severe and doubtful struggle through which we passed, 
when the executive department of the government, by its 
veto, endeavored to arrest this prodigal scheme of injustice, 
and to bring back the legislation of Congress to the boun- 
daries prescribed by the Constitution. The good sense 
and practical judgment of the people, when the subject was 
brought before them, sustained the course of the executive ; 
and this plan of unconstitutional expenditures for the pur- 
poses of corrupt influence is, I trust, finally overthrown. 

The result of this decision has been felt in the rapid 
extinguishment of the public debt, and the large accumu- 
lation of a surplus in the treasury, notwithstanding the 
tariff was reduced, and is now very far below the amount 
originally contemplated by its advocates. But, rely upon 
it, the design to collect an extravagant revenue, and to 
burden you with taxes beyond the economical wants of the 
government, is not yet abandoned. The various interests 
which have combined together to impose a heavy tariff, and 


to produce an overflowing treasury, are too strong, and 
have too much at stake, to surrender the contest. The 
corporations and wealthy individuals who are engaged in 
large manufacturing establishments desire a high tariff to 
increase their gains. Designing politicians will support it 
to conciliate their favor, and to obtain the means of profuse 
expenditure, for the purpose of purchasing influence in other 
quarters ; and, since the people have decided that the fede- 
ral government cannot be permitted to employ its income 
in internal improvements, efforts will be made to seduce and 
mislead the citizens ef the several States, by holding out to 
them the deceitful prospect of benefits to be derived from a 
surplus revenue collected by the general government, and 
annually divided among the States ; and if, encouraged by 
these fallacious hopes, the States should disregard the prin- 
ciples of economy which ought to characterize every repub- 
lican government, and should indulge in lavish expenditures, 
exceeding their resources, they will, before long, find them- 
selves oppressed with debts which they are unable to pay, 
and the temptation will become irresistible to support a 
high tariff in order to obtain a surplus for distribution. 
Do not allow yourselves, my fellow-citizens, to be misled 
on this subject. The federal government cannot collect a 
surplus for such purposes, without violating the principles 
of the Constitution, and assuming powers which have not 
been granted. It is, moreover, a system of injustice, and, 
if persisted in, will inevitably lead to corruption, and must 
end in ruin. The surplus revenue will be drawn from the 
pockets of the people, from the farmer, the mechanic, and 
the laboring classes of society; but who will receive it 
when distributed among the States, where it is to be dis- 
posed of by leading State politicians, who have friends to 
favor and political partisans to gratify ? It will certainly 
not be returned to those who paid it, and who have most 
need of it, and are honestly entitled to it. There is but one 


safe rule ; and that is, to confine the general government 
rigidly within the sphere of its appropriate duties. It has. 
no power to raise a revenue or impose taxes except for the 
purposes enumerated in the Constitution ; and if its income 
is found to exceed these wants, it should be forthwith re- 
duced, and the burden of the people so far lightened. 

In reviewing the conflicts which have taken place between 
different interests in the United States, and the policy pur- 
sued since the adoption of our present form of government, 
we find nothing that has produced such deep-seated evil as 
the course of legislation in relation to the currency. The 
Constitution of the United States unquestionably intended 
to secure to the people a circulating medium of gold and 
silver. But the establishment of a national bank by Con- 
gress, with the privilege of issuing paper money receivable 
in the payment of the public dues, and the unfortunate 
course of legislation in the several States upon the same 
subject, drove from circulation the constitutional currency, 
and substituted one of paper in its place. 

It was not easy for men engaged in the ordinary pursuits 
of business, whose attention had not been particularly drawn 
to the subject, to foresee all the consequences of a currency 
exclusively of paper ; and we ought not, on that account, 
to be surprised at the facility with which laws were obtained 
to carry into effect the paper system. Honest and even 
enlightened men are sometimes misled by the specious and 
plausible statements of the designiug. But experience has 
now proved the mischiefs and dangers of a paper currency ; 
and it rests with you to determine whether the proper 
remedy shall be applied. 

The paper system being founded on public confidence, 
and having of itself no intrinsic value, it is liable to great 
and sudden fluctuations ; thereby rendering property inse- 
cure, and the wages of labor unsteady and uncertain. The 
corporations which create the paper money cannot be relied 


upon to keep the circulating medium uniform in amount. 
In times of prosperity, when confidence is high, they are 
tempted, by the prospect of gain, or by the influence of 
those who hope to profit by it, to extend their issues of 
paper beyond the bounds of discretion and the reasonable 
demands of business. And when these issues have been 
pushed on, from day to day, until public confidence is at 
length shaken, then a reaction takes place, and they imme- 
diately withdraw the credits they have given, suddenly cur- 
tail their issues, and produce an unexpected and ruinous 
contraction of the circulating medium, which is felt by the 
whole community. The banks, by this means, save them- 
selves, and the mischievous consequences of their impru- 
dence or cupidity are visited upon the public. Nor does 
the evil stop here. These ebbs and flows in the currency, 
and these indiscreet extensions of credit, naturally engeuder 
a spirit of speculation injurious to the habits and character 
of the people. We have already seen its effects in the wild 
spirit of speculation in the public lands and various kinds 
of stock, which within the last year or two seized upon such 
a multitude of our citizens, and threatened to pervade all 
classes of society, and to withdraw their attention from the 
sober pursuits of honest industry. It is not by encouraging 
this spirit that we shall best preserve public virtue and 
promote the true interests of our country. But if your 
currency continues as exclusively paper as it now is, it will 
foster this eager desire to amass wealth without labor ; it 
will multiply the number of dependents on bank accommo- 
dations and bank favors ; the temptation to obtain money 
at any sacrifice will become stronger and stronger, and 
inevitably lead to corruption, which will find its way into 
your public councils, and destroy, at no distant day, the 
purity of your government. Some of the evils which arise 
from this system of paper, press with peculiar hardship upon 
the class of society least able to bear it. A portion of this 


currency frequently becomes depreciated or worthless, and 
all of it is easily counterfeited in such a manner as to re- 
quire peculiar skill and much experience to distinguish the 
counterfeit from the genuine note. These frauds are most 
generally perpetrated in the smaller notes, which are used 
in the daily transactions of ordinary business ; and the 
losses occasioned by them are commonly thrown upon the 
laboring classes of society, whose situation and pursuits 
put it out of their power to guard themselves from these 
impositions, and whose daily wages are necessary for their 
subsistence. It is the duty of every government so to regu- 
late its currency as to protect this numerous class, as far as 
practicable, from the impositions of avarice and fraud. It 
is more especially the duty of the United States, where the 
government is emphatically the government of the people, 
and where this respectable portion of our citizens are so 
proudly distinguished from the laboring classes of all other 
nations, by their independent spirit, their love of liberty, 
their intelligence, and their high tone of moral character. 
Their industry, in peace, is the source of our wealth ; and 
their bravery, in war, has covered us with glory ; and the 
government of the United States will but ill discharge its 
duties, if it leaves them a prey to such dishonest imposi- 
tions. Yet it is evident that their interests cannot be 
effectually protected, unless silver and gold are restored to 

These views alone, of the paper currency, are sufficient to 
call for immediate reform ; but there is another considera- 
tion which should still more strongly press it upon your 

Recent events have proved that the paper-money system 
of this country may be used as an engine to undermine your 
free institutions ; and that those who desire to engross all 
power in the hands of the few, and to govern by corruption 
or force, are aware of its power, and prepared to employ it. 


Your banks now furnish your only circulating medium, and 
money is plenty or scarce, according to the quantity of notes 
issued by them. While they have capitals not greatly dis- 
proportioned to each other, they are competitors in busi- 
ness, and no one of them can exercise dominion over the 
rest ; and although, in the present state of the currency, 
these banks may and do operate injuriously upon the habits 
of business, the pecuniary concerns, and the moral tone of 
society, yet, from their number and dispersed situation, they 
cannot combine for the purposes of political influence; and, 
whatever may be the dispositions of some of them, their 
power of mischief must necessarily be confined to a narrow 
space, and felt only in their immediate neighborhoods. 

But when the charter for the Bank of the United States 
was obtained from Congress, it perfected the schemes of the 
paper system, and gave to its advocates the position they 
have struggled to obtain, from the commencement of the 
federal government to the present hour. The immense 
capital and peculiar privileges bestowed upon it enabled it 
to exercise despotic sway over the other banks, in every 
part of the country. From its superior strength,- it could 
seriously injure, if not destroy, the business of any one of 
them which might incur its resentment ; and it openly 
claimed for itself the power of regulating the currency 
throughout the United States. In other words, it asserted 
(and it undoubtedly possessed) the power to make money 
plenty or scarce, at its pleasure, at any time, and in any 
quarter of the Union, by controlling the issues of other 
banks, and permitting an expansion, or compelling a gene- 
ral contraction, of the circulating medium, according to its 
own will. The other banking institutions were sensible of 
its strength, and they soon generally became its obedient 
instruments, ready at all times to execute its mandates ; 
and with the banks necessarily went, also, that numerous 
class of persons in our commercial cities who depend alto- 


gether on bank credits for their solvency and means of busi- 
ness ; and who are therefore obliged, for their own safety, 
to propitiate the favor of the money power by distinguished 
zeal and devotion in its service. The result of the ill- 
advised legislation which established this great monopoly 
was, to concentrate the whole moneyed power of the Union, 
with its boundless means of corruption and its numerous 
dependents, under the direction and command of one ac- 
knowledged head : thus organizing this particular interest 
as one body; and securing to it unity and concert of action 
throughout the United States, and enabling it to bring for- 
ward, upon any occasion, its entire and undivided strength, 
to support or defeat any measure of the Government. In 
the hands of this formidable power, thus perfectly organized, 
was also placed unlimited dominion over the amount of the 
circulating medium, giving it the power to regulate the 
value of property and the fruits of labor in every quarter 
of the Union ; and to bestow prosperity or bring ruin upon 
any city or section of the country, as might best comport 
with its own interest or policy. 

We are not left to conjecture how the moneyed power, 
thus organized, and with such a weapon in its hands, would 
be likely to use it. The distress and alarm which pervaded 
and agitated the whole country when the Bank of the 
United States waged war upon the people, in order to 
compel them to submit to its demands, cannot yet be for- 
gotten. The ruthless and unsparing temper with which 
whole cities and communities were oppressed, individuals 
impoverished and ruined, and a scene of cheerful prosperity 
suddenly changed into one of gloom and despondency, 
ought to be indelibly impressed on the memory of the 
people of the United States. If such was its power in a 
time of peace, what would it not have been in a season of 
war, with an enemy at your doors ? No nation but the 
freemen of the United States could have come out vie- 


torious from such a contest ; yet, if you bad not conquered, 
the government would have passed from the hands of the 
many to the hands of the few ; and this organized money 
power, from its secret conclave, would have dictated the 
choice of your highest offices, and compelled you to make 
peace or war, as best suited their own wishes. The forms 
of your government might, for a time, have remained, but 
its living spirit would have departed from it. 

The distress and sufferings indicted on the people by the 
bank are some of the fruits of that system of policy which is 
continually striving to enlarge the authority of the federal 
government beyond the limits fixed by the Constitution. 
The powers enumerated in that instrument do not confer 
on Congress the right to establish such a corporation as 
the Bank of the United States, and the evil consequences 
which followed may warn us of the danger of departing 
from the true rule of construction, and of permitting tem- 
porary circumstances, or the hope of better promoting the 
public welfare, to influence, in any degree, our decisions 
upon the extent of the authority of the general government. 
Let us abide by the Constitution as it is written, or amend 
it, in the constitutional mode, if it is found to be defective. 

The severe lessons of experience will, I doubt not, be 
sufficient to prevent Congress from again chartering such a 
monopoly, even if the Constitution did not present an insu- 
perable objection to it. But you must remember, my fellow- 
citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of 
liberty ; and that you must pay the price if you wish to 
secure the blessing. It behooves you, therefore, to be 
watchful in your States, as well as in the federal govern- 
ment. The power which the moneyed interest can exer- 
cise, when concentrated under a single head, and with our 
present system of currency, was sufficiently demonstrated in 
the struggle made by the Bank of the United States. 
Defeated in the general government, the same class of in- 


triguers and politicians will now resort to the States, and 
endeavor to obtain there the same organization which they 
failed to perpetuate in the Union ; and with specious and 
deceitful plans of public advantages, and State interests, 
and State pride, they will endeavor to establish, in the 
different States, one moneyed institution, with overgrown 
capital, and exclusive privileges, sufficient to enable it to 
control the operations of the other banks. Such an insti- 
tution will be pregnant with the same evils produced by the 
Bank of the United States, although its sphere of action is 
more confined ; and, in the State in which it is chartered, 
the money power will be able to embody its whole strength, 
and to move together with undivided force to accomplish 
any object it may wish to attain. You have already had 
abundant evidence of its power to inflict injury upon the 
agricultural, mechanical, and laboring classes of society ; 
and over those whose engagements in trade or speculation 
render them dependent on bank facilities, the dominion of 
the State monopoly will be absolute, and their obedience 
unlimited. With such a bank and a paper currency, the 
money power would, in a few years, govern the State and 
control its measures ; and, if a sufficient number of States 
can be induced to create such establishments, the time will 
soon come when it will again take the field against the 
United States, and succeed in perfecting and perpetuating 
its organization by a charter from Congress. 

It is one of the serious evils of our present system of 
banking, that it enables one class of society, and that by 
no means a numerous one, by its control over the currency, 
to act injuriously upon the interests of all the others, and 
to exercise more than its just proportion of influence in po- 
litical affairs. The agricultural, the mechanical, and the 
laboring classes, have little or no share in the direction of 
the great moneyed corporations ; and, from their habits, 
and the nature of their pursuits, they are incapable of form- 


ing extensive combinations to act together with united 
force. Such concert of action may sometimes be produced 
in a single city, or in a small district of country, by means 
of personal communications with each other; but they have 
no regular or active correspondence with those who are en- 
gaged in similar pursuits in distant places ; they have but 
little patronage to give to the press, and exercise but a 
small share of influence over it ; they have no crowd of de- 
pendents about them, who hope to grow rich without labor, 
by their countenance and favor, and who are, therefore, 
always ready to execute their wishes. The planter, the 
farmer, the mechanic, and the laborer, all know that their 
success depends upon their own industry and economy, and 
that they must not expect to become suddenly rich by the 
fruits of their toil. Yet these classes of society form the 
great body of the people of the United States ; they are 
the bone and sinew of the country ; men who love liberty, 
and desire nothing but equal rights and equal laws ; 
and who, moreover, hold the great mass of our national 
wealth, although it is distributed in moderate amounts 
among the millions of freemeu who possess it. But, with 
overwhelming numbers and wealth on their side, they are 
in constant danger of losing their fair influence in the 
government, and with difficulty maintain their just rights 
against the incessant efforts daily made to encroach upon 
them. The mischief springs from the power which the 
moneyed interest derives from a paper currency, which they 
are able to control ; from the multitude of corporations, 
with exclusive privileges, which they have succeeded in 
obtaining in the different States, and which are employed 
altogether for their benefit; and, unless you become more 
watchful in your States, and check this spirit of monopoly 
and thirst for exclusive privileges, you will, in the end, find 
that the most important powers of government have been 


given or bartered away, and the control over your dearest 
interests has passed into the hands of these corporations. 

The paper-money system and its natural associations — 
monopoly and exclusive privileges — have already struck their 
roots too deep in the soil ; and it will require all your efforts 
to check its further growth, and to eradicate the evil. The 
men who profit by the abuses, and desire to perpetuate 
them, will continue to besiege the halls of legislation in the 
general government as well as in the States, and will seek, 
by every artifice, to mislead and deceive the public servants. 
It is to yourselves that you must look for safety, and the 
means of guarding and perpetuating your free institutions. 
In your hands is rightfully placed the sovereignty of the 
country, and to you every one placed in authority is ulti- 
mately responsible. It is always in your power to see that 
the wishes of the people are carried into faithful execution, 
and their will, when once made known, must, sooner or later, 
be obeyed. And while the people remain, as I trust they 
ever will, uncorrupted and incorruptible, and continue 
watchful and jealous of their rights, the government is safe, 
and the cause of freedom will continue to triumph over all 
its enemies. 

But it will require steady and persevering exertions on 
your part to rid yourselves of the iniquities and mischiefs of 
the paper system, and to check the spirit of monoply and 
other abuses which have sprung up with it, and of which it 
is the main support. So many interests are united to resist 
all reform on this subject, that you must not hope the con- 
vict will be a short one, nor success easy. My humble 
efforts have not been spared, during my administration of 
the government, to restore the constitutional currency of 
gold and silver ; and something, I trust, has been done to- 
wards the accomplishment of this most desirable object. 
But enough yet remains to require all your energy and per- 
severance. The power, however, is in your hands, and 


the remedy must and will be applied, if you determine upon 

While I am thus endeavoring to press upon your attention 
the principles which I deem of vital importance in the do- 
mestic concerns of the country, I ought not to pass over, 
without notice, the important considerations which should 
govern your policy towards foreign powers. It is unques- 
tionably, our true interest to cultivate the most friendly 
understanding with every nation, and to avoid, by every 
honorable means, the calamities of war ; and we shall best 
attain this object by frankness and sincerity in our foreign 
intercourse, by the prompt and faithful execution of treaties, 
and by justice and impartiality in our conduct to all. But 
no nation, however desirous of peace, can hope to escape 
occasional collisions with other powers ; and the soundest 
dictates of "policy require that we should place ourselves in 
a condition to assert our rights, if a resort to force should 
ever become necessary. Our local situation, our long line 
of sea-coast, indented by numerous bays, with deep rivers 
opening into the interior, as well as our extended and stili 
increasing commerce, point to the navy as our natural means 
of defense. It will, in the end, be found to be the cheapest 
and most effectual ; and now is the time, in a season of 
peace, and with an overflowing revenue, that we can, year 
after year, add to its strength, without increasing the burdens 
of the people. It is your true policy. For your navy will 
not only protect your rich and flourishing commerce in dis- 
tant seas, but will enable you to reach and annoy the enemy, 
and will give to defense its greatest efficiency, by meeting 
danger at a distance from home. It is impossible, by any 
line of fortifications, to guard every point from attack against 
a hostile force advancing from the ocean and selecting its 
object; but they are indispensable to protect cities from 
bombardment, dock yards and naval arsenals from destruc- 
tion j to give shelter to merchant vessels in time of war, 


and to single ships or weaker squadrons when pressed by 
superior force. Fortifications of this description cannot be 
too soon completed and armed, and placed in a condition of 
the most perfect preparation. The abundant means we 
now possess cannot be applied in any manner more useful 
to the country ; and when this is done, and our naval force 
sufficiently strengthened, and our militia armed, we need 
not fear that any nation will wantonly insult us, or needlessly 
provoke hostilities. We shall more certainly preserve peace, 
when it is well understood that we are prepared for war. 

In presenting to you, my fellow-citizens, these parting 
counsels, I have brought before you the leading principles 
upon which I endeavored to administer the government in 
the high office with which you twice honored me. Know- 
ing that the path of freedom is continually beset by ene- 
mies, who often assume the disguise of friends, I have 
devoted the last hours of my public life to warn you of the 
dangers. The progress of the United States, under our 
free and happy institutions, has surpassed the most sanguine 
hopes of the founders of the republic. Our growth has 
been rapid beyond all former example, in numbers, in 
wealth, in knowledge, and all the useful arts which con- 
tribute to the comforts and conveniences of man ; and from 
the earliest ages of history to the present day, there never 
have been thirteen millions of people associated in one po- 
litical body, who enjoyed so much freedom and happiness 
as the people of these United States. You have no longer 
any cause to fear danger from abroad ; your strength and 
power are well known throughout the civilized world, as 
well as the high and gallant bearing of your sons. It is 
from within, among yourselves, from cupidity, from corrup- 
tion, from disappointed ambition, and inordinate thirst for 
power, that factions will be formed, and liberty endangered. 
It is against such designs, whatever disguise the actors may 
assume, that you have especially to guard yourselves. You 


have the highest of human trusts committed to your care. 
Providence has showered on this favored land blessings 
without number, and has chosen you, as the guardians of 
freedom, to preserve it for the benefit of the human race. 
May He who holds in his hands the destinies of nations, 
make you worthy of the favors he has bestowed, and enable 
you, with pure hearts and pure hands, and sleepless vigi- 
lance, to guard and defend, to the end of time, the great 
charge he has committed to your keeping. 

My own race is nearly run ; advanced age and failing 
health warn me that before long I must pass beyond the 
reach of human events, and cease to feel the vicissitudes of 
human affairs. I thank God that my life has been spent in 
a land of liberty, and that he has given me a heart to love 
my country with the affection of a son. And, filled with 
gratitude for your constant and unwavering kindness, I 
bid you a last and affectionate farewell. 


March 4, 1837. 



Soon after the organization of Congress in December, 

1853, a Bill for the organization of the Territories of Kan- 
sas and Nebraska, was introduced in the Senate, and referred 
to the Committee on Territories, of which Senator Douglas, 
of Illinois, was chairman. On the 4th day of January, 

1854, the committee reported a substitute for the entire Bill, 
together with a report, which, after reviewing the various 
provisions of the Bill, concluded as follows : 

" From these provisions it is apparent that the compro- 
mise measures of 1850 affirm and rest upon the following 
propositions : 

" First. That all questions pertaining to slavery in the 
territories, and in the new States to be formed therefrom, 
are to be left to the decision of the people residing therein, 
by their appropriate representatives, to be chosen by them 
for that purpose. 

" Second. That all cases involving title to slaves and 
questions of personal freedom, are referred to the adjudica- 
tion of the local tribunals, with the right of appeal to the 
Supreme Court of the United States. 

" Third. That the provision of the Constitution of the 
United States, in respect to fugitives from service, is to be 
carried into faithful execution in all the organized territo- 
ries, the same as in the States. The substitute for the Bill 
which your committee have prepared, and which is com- 
mended to the favorable action of the Senate, proposes to 
carry these propositions and principles into practical ope- 
31 (481) 


ration, in the precise language of the compromise measures 
of 1850." 

It will thus be seen that the report based the Bill upon 
the compromise of 1850, so far as the question of slavery 
was concerned, and hence it becomes necessary to refer to 
those measures, to determine what principle was settled by 

On the 29th of January, 1850, while the slavery agitation 
was raging with great violence, threatening, indeed, the very 
existence of the government, Mr. Clay introduced into the 
Senate several resolutions upon the subject of slavery, in- 
tended to form a basis of settlement upon that subject. 
While these resolutions were pending, the Committee on 
Territories reported a Bill for the admission of California as 
a State, and one for the organization of the Territories of 
Utah and New Mexico, and the adjustment of the Texas 
boundary. On the 19th of April a select committee of 
thirteen was appointed, of which Mr. Clay was chairman, 
and to that committee was referred the various propositions 
before the Senate. On the 8th of May, Mr. Clay, from the 
committee of thirteen, submitted to the Senate a report, .ac- 
companied by a bill, containing the essential features of the 
two bills previously submitted by the Committee on Terri- 
tories, excepting as to the powers of the territorial legisla- 
ture over slavery. The tenth section of the bill reported 
by the Committee on Territories read as follows : 

"And be it further enacted, That the legislative power 
of the territory shall extend to all rightful subjects of legis- 
lation consistent with the Constitution of the United States 
and the provisions of this act ; but no law shall be passed 
interfering with the primary disposition of the soil." 

To which Mr. Clay's committee added these words : 
u nor in respect to African slavery." 

On the 31st of July, the above clause added by Mr. Clay, 
was struck out by the Senate, thus conferring on the Terri- 


tonal Legislature power over "all rightful subjects of legisla- 
tion consistent with the Constitution of the United States." 

We have thus arrived at the meaning of the report, accom- 
panying the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, from the committee to 
the Senate, on the 4th of January, 1854, when they say that 
the Bill *f proposes to carry these propositions and principles 
into practical operation in the precise language of the com- 
promise measures of 1850." It is proper here to say, that 
when the compromise of 1850 was before the Senate, an at- 
tempt was made to engraft upon it an amendment, declaring 
in substance, that the territorial legislature could not pro- 
hibit the introduction of slaves — that slaves-were recognized 
as property by the Constitution of the United States, and 
hence were entitled to the same protection as other property. 
Many Southern Senators took this view of the question ; 
while, upon the other hand, Messrs. Seward, Chase, and 
others from the North, advocated the power of Congress to 
prohibit slavery in the territories, and offered amendments 
to that import. The Bill passed the Senate, however, in 
the shape already referred to, by a vote of 32 to 19. 

When the Kansas-Nebraska bill came before the Senate 
for discussion, it was contended by some, that, in the shape 
it then was, it could not be carried into practical operation, 
inasmuch as it did not, in terms, repeal the act of Congress 
of March 6th, 1820, prohibiting slavery north of 36° 30', 
commonly, but mistakenly, called the Missouri compromise. 
We say, mistakenly called the Missouri compromise, be- 
cause the compromise under which that State was admitted 
into the Union was passed in 1821, while the section pro- 
hibiting slavery north of 36° 30' was a part of an enabling 
act for the admission of Missouri, passed in 1820, but 
which really had nothing to do with its final admission. 
This fact, however, is immaterial, in point of principle, and 
we allude to it only to correct a popular error. 

The question having thus arisen as to the prohibition of 


slavery north of 36° 30', Mr. Douglas, chairman of the 
committee on Territories, proposed an amendment, which 
was incorporated into the bill, as follows — the proviso at the 
close of the section being adopted on motion of Mr. 
Badger, of North Carolina: 

" That the Constitution, and all laws of the United States 
which are not locally inapplicable, shall have the same force 
and effect within the said Territory of Nebraska as else- 
where in the United States, except the eighth section of 
the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri into the 
Union, approved March sixth, eighteen hundred and twenty, 
which, being inconsistent with the principle of non-interven- 
tion by Congress with slavery in the States and Territories, 
as recognized by the legislation of eighteen hundred and 
fifty, commonly called the compromise measures, is hereby 
declared inoperative and void ; it being the true intent and 
meaning of this act, not to legislate slavery into any Terri- 
tory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the 
people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their do- 
mestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the 
Constitution of the United States : Provided, That nothiug 
herein contained shall be construed to revive or put in force 
any law or regulation which may have existed prior to the 
act of sixth March, eighteen hundred and twenty, either 
protecting, establishing, prohibiting or abolishing slavery. n 

When this amendment was presented to the Senate it be- 
came the signal for opening anew the slavery agitation with 
redoubled fury. It was opposed by the anti-slavery senti- 
ment of the North as a violation of a solemn compact ; — as 
an attempt to tear down a sacred barrier between freedom 
and slavery for the purpose of spreading that institution 
over the virgin soil of the country. On the other hand it 
was contended that it was necessary in order to give full 
effect to the compromise of 1850 ; the spirit and intent of 
which was to withdraw from Congress all control over the 


question of slavery in the territories, and leave the people 
therein free to act as they pleased. We give no debates 
upon the bill for the reason that they are now, in extenso, 
within the reach and remembrance of all who take any in- 
terest in the matter. The bill passed the Senate on the 3d 
day of March, 1854, by the following vote : 

Yeas — Messrs. Adams, Atchison, Badger, Bayard, Ben- 
jamin, Brodhead, Brown, Butler, Cass, Clay, Dawson, 
Dixon, Dodge of Iowa, Douglas, Evans, Fitzpatrick, 
Geyer, Gwin, Hunter, Johnson, Jones of Iowa, Jones of 
Tennessee, Mason, Morton, Norris, Pettit, Pratt, Rusk, 
Sebastian, Shields, Slidell, Stuart, Thompson of Kentucky, 
Thompson of New Jersey, Toucey, Weller, and Williams, 

Nays — Messrs. Bell, Chase, Dodge of Wisconsin, Fes- 
senden, Fish, Foot, Hamlin, Houston, James, Seward, 
Smith, Sumner, Wade, and Walker, — 14. 

It was delayed in the House till the 23d day of May, 
when it passed that body, striking out what was called the 
Clayton amendment, restricting the rights of aliens so far as 
suffrage was concerned. 

The following is the vote in the House : 

Democrats from Slave States 
it it p ree « 

Whigs from Slave States 
« u Free it 

Total, 109 100 

It was returned to the Senate, and on the 25th of May, 
the House amendment was concurred in by a vote of 36 to 
13. On the 30th of May, it was signed by the President, 
and thus became the law under which those territories were 

It would seem that both the North and the South construed 












the Kansas-Nebraska Bill alike, so far as the slavery ques- 
tion was concerned, at the time of its passage, — that the 
intention of Congress was to give to the people of the ter- 
ritories full power to dispose of this as well as other ques- 
tions. It is now, however, contended by many, especially 
in the South, that such power cannot be exercised by a 
territorial legislature — that slavery may exist in the territo- 
ries, under the protection of the Constitution of the United 
States, which recognizes it as property and is bound to 
protect all species of property alike. For this they rely 
upon the following points in the decision of the Court in 
the Dred Scott case. 

M 1. Congress can exercise no power over the rights of 
persons or property of a citizen in the Territory which is 
prohibited by the Constitution. The government and the 
citizen, whenever the Territory is open to settlement, both 
enter it with their respective rights defined and limited by 
the Constitution. 

"2. Congress have no right to prohibit the citizens of any 
particular State or States from taking up their home there, 
while it permits citizens of other States to do so. Nor has 
it a right to give privileges to one class of citizens which it 
refuses to another. The Territory is acquired for their 
equal and common benefit — aud if open to any, it must be 
opeu to all upon equal aud the same terms. 

" 3. Every citizen has a right to take with him into the 
Territory any article of property which the Constitution of 
the United States recognizes as property. 

" 4. The Constitution of the United States recognizes 
slaves as property, and pledges the federal government to 
protect it. And Congress cannot exercise any more autho- 
rity over property of that description than it may constitu- 
tionally exercise -over property of any other kind. 

" 5. The act of Congress, therefore, prohibiting a citizen 
of the United States from taking with him his slaves when he 


removes to the Territory in question to reside, is an exercise 
of authority over private property which is not warranted 
by the Constitution." 

To this it is replied, that while it is true that the owner 
of slaves may take them to a Territory as property, still he 
must submit to the local law of the Territory when he gets 
them there, be it friendly or otherwise. 

Thus is the sentiment of the country divided into three 
great parties, which may be properly designated the Prohi- 
bitionists, the Protectionists and the Non-interventionists. 
The prospect for a speedy and peaceful settlement of the 
vexed question is by no means encouraging. Would that 
it were; for we presume no one will deny that the coutinued 
agitation of this delicate and disturbing question is a great 
public misfortune. It destroys fraternal relations between 
the States and embitters the minds of the people. It creates 
sectional discords and divisions, disturbs the national coun- 
cils, and is gradually but surely alienating the affections of 
the citizens from their government. The political energies 
of the country, that should be spent in building up those 
great commercial, industrial, moral, and social institutions 
which constitute the monuments of national greatness and 
power, are exhausted in the business of engendering internal 
hatred, contentions and strife. Let it be the effort of every 
patriot to do away with this deplorable state of things, — to 
settle this question by the safe and wise principles our fathers 
established, there to rest forever undisturbed. Only thus 
will peace and harmony again be restored to the country — 
only thus shall we present to the world the spectacle of a 
great, free, and happy people, united as one family in in- 
terest, in affection, and aim ; ever moving onward iu the 
pathway of prosperity and progress, as well as in all that 
coutitutes national greatness, glory, and renown. 



The first National Conventions of delegates elected by 
the people to nominate candidates for President and Vice- 
President, were held in 1840. Both the Whig and Demo- 
cratic parties nominated in that way for that campaign. 
Previous to that period nominations were made by caucuses 
called by the members of Congress, in which they only were 
admitted to vote. Alleged abuses and intrigues led to the 
change of nominating, by delegates chosen from each con- 
gressional district. Up to 1848, no issue in reference to 
slavery seems to have been raised between the parties in 
their platforms ; or, rather, up to that time no necessity 
seems to have arisen for the conventions to take particular 
notice of the subject. In the midst of the slavery agitation 
of that year, the two parties held their conventions. The 
Whig party nominated Gen. Zachary Taylor for President, 
and Millard Fillmore for Vice-President, and adjourned 
without laying down any platform. The Democratic con- 
vention nominated General Lewis Cass for President, and 
General William O. Butler for Vice-President, and passed 
the fojlowing resolution on the question of slavery : 

" Resolved, That Congress has no power under the Con- 
stitution to interfere with or control the domestic institu- 
tions of the several States, and that such States are the sole 
and proper judges of everything appertaining to their own 
affairs, not prohibited by the Constitution ; that all efforts 
of the abolitionists, or others, made to induce Congress 
to interfere with questions of slavery, or to take incipient 


steps in relation thereto, are calculated to lead to the most 
alarming and dangerous consequences ; and that all such 
efforts have an inevitable tendency to diminish the happi- 
ness of the people, and endanger the stability and perma- 
nency of the Union, and ought not to be countenanced by 
any friend of our political institutions. " 

In 1852, the Democratic convention at Baltimore nom- 
inated General Franklin Pierce for President, and William 
R. King for Yice-President, and adopted the following 
resolutions referring to slavery : 

" Resolved, That Congress has no power under the Con- 
stitution to interfere with or control the domestic institu- 
tions of the several States, and that such States are the sole 
and proper judges of everything appertaining to their own 
affairs, not prohibited by the Constitution ; that all efforts 
of the abolitionists, or others, made to induce Congress to 
interfere with questions of slavery, or to take incipient steps 
in relation thereto, are calculated to lead to the most alarm- 
ing and dangerous consequences ; and that all such efforts 
have an inevitable tendency to diminish the happiness of 
the people, and endanger the stability and permanency of 
the Union, and ought not to be countenanced by any friend 
of our public institutions. 

" Resolved, That the foregoing proposition covers, and 
was intended to embrace, the whole subject of slavery agi- 
tation in Congress, and therefore the Democratic party of 
the Union, standing on this national platform, will abide 
by, and adhere to, a faithful execution of the acts known as 
the compromise measures, settled by the last Congress — the 
act for reclaiming fugitives from service or labor included ; 
which, being designed to carry out an express provision of 
the Constitution, cannot with fidelity thereto be repealed, 
or so changed as to destroy or impair its efficiency." 

The Whig convention, at Baltimore, soon after, nomi- 
nated General Winfield Scott for President, and William 


R. Granam for Vice President, and adopted the following 
as their views. This was the last national convention ever 
held by that party : 

" Resolved, That the series of resolutions known as the 
compromise, including the fugitive slave law, an: received 
and acquiesced in by the Whig party of the United State! 
as a settlement in principle and substance — a final settle- 
ment — of the dangerous and exciting subjects which they 
embrace ; and so far ns the fugitive slave law is concerned, 
we will maintain the same, and insist on its strict enforce- 
ment until time and experience shall demonstrate the neces- 
sity of further legislation against evasion or abuses, but not 
impairing its efficacy ; and we deprecate all future agitation 
of the slavery question as dangerous to the peace, and wc 
will discountenance all efforts at the renewal or continuance 
of such agitation in Congress, or out of it, whenever, wher- 
ever, or howsoever the attempt may be made, and will main- 
tain this system of measures as policy essential to the nation- 
ality of the Whig party and the integrity of the Union." 

In 1856, the Democratic convention at Cincinnati nomi- 
nated James Buchanan for President, and John C. Brecken- 
ridge for Yice-President, and adopted the following resolu- 
tion on the slavery question : 

"Resolved, That the American Democracy recognize and 
adopt the principles contained in the organic laws estab- 
lishing the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska as embody- 
ing the only sound and safe solution of the ' slavery ques- 
tion,' upon which the great national idea of the people of 
this whole country can repose in its determined conservatism 
of the Union, — non-interference by Congress with slavery in 
State and Territory, or in the District of Columbia ;" 

"That this was the basis of the Compromises of .1850, 
confirmed by both the Democratic and Whig parties in 
national conventions, — ratified by the people in the election 
of 1852, — and rightly applied to the organization of the 


Territories in 1854 ; That by the uniform application of this 
democratic principle to the organization of Territories and to 
the admission of new States, with or without domestic slavery 
as they may elect, the equal rights of all will be preserved 
intact, — the original compacts of the Constitution main- 
tained inviolate, — and the perpetuity and expansion of this 
Union insured to its utmost capacity of embracing in peace 
and harmony any future American State that may be con- 
stituted or annexed with a republican form of government." 

The same year the Republican convention at Philadel- 
phia nominated John C. Fremont for President, and William 
L. Dayton for Yice-Presideut, and adopted the following 
as its platform on slavery. 

" Resolved, That, with our republican fathers, who, when 
they had abolished slavery in all our national territory, 
ordained that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, 
or property, withont due process of law, it becomes our 
duty to maintain this provision of the Constitution against 
all attempts to violate it, for the purpose of establishing 
slavery in the United States, by positive legislation pro- 
hibiting its existence or extension therein. 

" Resolved, That we deny the authority of Congress, of a 
territorial legislature, or any individual or association of 
individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any terri- 
tory of the United States, while the present Constitution 
shall be maintained. 

Resolved, That the Constitution confers upon Congress 
sovereign power over the territories of the United States, 
for their government ; and that, in the exercise of this 
power, it is both the duty and right of Congress to prohibit 
in the territories those twin relics of barbarism — polygamy 
and slavery." 

The American convention nominated Millard Fillmore 
for President, and Andrew J. Donelson for Yice-President, 


and adopted, in substance, the principles of the compro- 
mise measures of 1850, as their platform on slavery. 

In 1860, the Constitutional Union party, at Baltimore, 
nominated John Bell for President, and Edward Everett 
for Vice-President, adopting " the Constitution and en- 
forcement of the laws" as a platform. 

The Republican convention, at Chicago, nominated 
Abraham Lincoln for President, and Hannibal Hamlin for 
Vice-President, and adopted the following resolutions on 
slavery : 

" Resolved, That the new dogma that the Constitution, 
of its own force, carries slavery into any or all the terri- 
tories of the United States, is a dangerous political heresy, 
at variance with the explicit provisions of that instrument 
itself, with contemporaneous exposition, and with legislative 
and judicial precedent, is revolutionary in its tendency, and 
subversive of the peace and harmony of the country. 

"Resolved, That the normal condition of all the territory 
of the United States is that of freedom ; that as our repub- 
lican fathers, when they had abolished slavery in all our 
national territory, ordained that no person should be de- 
prived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of 
law, it becomes our duty, by legislation, whenever such 
legislation is necessary, to maintain this provision of the 
Constitution against all attempts to violate it ; and we 
deny the authority of Congress, of a territorial legislature, 
or of any individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in 
any territory of the United States. 

" Resolved, That we brand the recent re-opening of the 
African slave trade, under the cover of our national flag, 
aided by perversions of judicial power, as a crime against 
humanity, a burning shame to our country and age, and we 
call upon Congress to take prompt and efficient measures 
for the total and final suppression of that execrable traffic. w 


The Democratic convention met at Charleston on the 
18th of April. After a session of nearly two weeks, 
toward the close of which most of the delegates from 
eight southern States left the convention, an adjournment 
to meet at Baltimore, on the 18th of June, was agreed 
upon. The convention met, pursuant to adjournment, at 
Baltimore, and on the 23d of June, Stephen A. Douglas, 
of Illinois, was nominated for President, and Benjamin 
Fitzpatrick, of Alabama, for Yice-President. The follow- 
ing resolutions were adopted. Excepting the last one, 
these resolutions were passed at Charleston : 

"Resolved, That we, the Democracy of the Union, in 
convention assembled, hereby declare our affirmation of the 
resolutions unanimously adopted and declared as a plat- 
form of principles by the Democratic convention at Cincin- 
nati, in the year 1856, believing that Democratic principles 
are unchangeable in their nature when applied to the same 
subject matter, and we recommend as our only further reso- 
lutions, the following : 

"Resolved, That it is in accordance with the interpreta- 
tion of the Cincinnati platform, that during the existence 
of Territorial government, the measure of restriction, what- 
ever it may be, imposed by the federal Constitution, or the 
power of the Territorial legislature, over the subject of the 
domestic relations, (as the same has been or shall hereafter 
be finally determined by the Supreme Court of the United 
States,) should be respected by all good citizens, and en- 
forced with promptness and fidelity by every branch of the 
general government. 

"Resolved, That it is the duty of the United States to 
afford ample and complete protection to all its citizens, at 
home or abroad, and whether native or foreign born. 

"Resolved, That one of the necessities of the age, in a 
military, commercial and postal point of view, is speedy 
communication between the Atlantic and Pacific States, 


and the Democratic party pledge such constitutional enact- 
ment as will insure the construction of a railroad to the 
Pacific coast at the earliest practicable period. 

"Resolved, That the Democratic party are in favor of the 
acquisition of the island of Cuba, on such terms as shall be 
honorable to ourselves and just to Spain. 

"Resolved, That the enactments of State legislatures to 
defeat the faithful execution of the fugitive slave law, are 
hostile in character, subversive of the Constitution, and 
revolutionary in their effect. 

Previous to the nomination of Mr. Douglas, a secession 
of about one hundred, both of Northern and Southern 
delegates, took place, who immediately met in Convention, 
and nominated John C. Breckenridge, of Kentucky, for 
President, and Joseph Lane, of Oregon, for Yice-President. 
This convention adopted the following platform, which 
is the same as adopted by the seceding delegates at 
Charleston : 

"Resolved, That the platform adopted by the Demo- 
cratic party at Cincinnati be affirmed, with the following 
explanatory resolutions : 

14 First — That the government of a Territory organized by 
an act of Congress, is provisional and temporary, and dur- 
ing its existence all citizens of the United States have an 
equal right to settle with their property in the Territory, 
without their rights, either of person or property, being de- 
stroyed or injured by congressional or territorial legis- 

" Second — That it is the duty of the federal government, 
in all its departments, to protect the rights of persons and 
property in the Territories, and wherever else its constitu- 
tional authority extends. 

" Third — That when the settlers in a Territory having an 
adequate population, form a State Constitution, the right 
of* sovereignty commences, and, being consummated by 


their admission into the Union, they stand on an equality 
with the people of other States, and a State thus organized 
ought to be admitted into the federal Union, whether its 
constitution prohibits or recognizes the institution of 

"Resolved, That the Democratic party are in favor of the 
acquisition of the island of Cuba, on such terms as shall 
be honorable to ourselves and just to Spain, at the earliest 
practicable moment. 

"Resolved, That the enactments of State legislatures to 
defeat the faithful execution of the fugitive slave law, are 
hostile in character, subversive of the Constitution, and 
revolutionary in their effect. 

"Resolved, That the Democracy of the United States 
recognize it as the imperative duty of this government to 
protect the naturalized citizen in all his rights, whether at 
home or in foreign lands, to the same extent as its native 
born citizens. 

" Whereas, One of the greatest necessities of the age, 
in a political, commercial, postal and military point of view, 
is a speedy communication between the Pacific and Atlantic 
coasts ; therefore, be it 

"Resolved, That the national Democratic party do hereby 
pledge themselves to use every means in their power to se- 
cure the passage of some bill, to the extent of their consti- 
tutional authority, by Congress, for the construction of a 
Pacific railroad from the Mississippi river to the Pacific 
ocean, at the earliest practicable moment. 

Mr. Fitzpatrick refusing to accept the nomination for 
Yice-President with Mr. Douglas, the National Committee 
placed the name of Herschel V. Johnson, of Georgia, upon 
the ticket in his stead.